The man who organized the robbery that killed Cardiff City striker Emiliano Sala has been found guilty of endangering the safety of the plane.
The plane carrying the Argentine striker, who had just signed for the Bluebirds, crashed in the English Channel in January 2019, killing footballer and pilot David Ibbotson.
A court had previously heard how the flight organizer hired an unqualified pilot to fly the plane in order to cut financial costs.
The operator of the aircraft, David Henderson, was unable to fly the aircraft himself as he had left with his wife for Paris.
Instead, he hired Ibbotson, who did not hold a commercial pilot’s license, was not licensed to fly at night, and whose qualification to fly the single-engine Piper Malibu had expired.
Henderson, 67, has now been sentenced with a 10-2 majority verdict for the death of Sala, 28, by a Cardiff Crown Court jury.
It took seven and a half hours for the jury of seven men and five women to convict Henderson, the operator of the plane, who the lawsuit said had arranged the flight with football agent William ‘Willie’ McKay.
The jury heard that moments after discovering the plane had crashed, Henderson texted a number of people telling them to remain silent, warning them that he would “open a box of worms.”
The father of three and a former RAF officer admitted in court that he feared an investigation into his business relationship.
Henderson, of Hotham in the East Riding of Yorkshire, had previously admitted a separate offense of attempting to unload a passenger without valid clearance or clearance.
Justice Foxton granted Henderson bail to be re-sentenced for both offenses on November 12.
He faces maximum penalties of five years imprisonment for endangering the aircraft and two years for the slightest charge.
Martin Goudie QC, prosecutor, previously told the court the case involved two flights, one from Cardiff to Nantes, where Sala was playing, on January 19 and a return flight to the Welsh capital on January 21.
“These flights were not operated and organized out of Mr Henderson’s love for Mr Sala or Cardiff City FC,” he said.
“They were organized because it was in his financial interest, he was to be given valuable consideration, a phrase we will come back to, in return for organizing and operating these flights.”