The owner of a plane which crashed into the sea, killing professional footballer Emiliano Sala, said she had previously ordered the pilot involved not to fly the aircraft.

Fay Keely said she had bought the aircraft through her family’s company, Cool Flourish Ltd, under advice from David Henderson in 2015, from which time he became the plane’s operator.

Henderson, 67, who is on trial at Cardiff Crown Court accused of endangering the safety of an aircraft, was in charge of the maintenance and hiring out of the single-engine Piper Malibu plane, and choosing appropriate pilots, the jury was told.

The plane carrying 28-year-old Sala, who was involved in a multimillion-pound transfer from French club Nantes to Cardiff City FC, crashed into the English Channel in January 2019, killing the striker and pilot David Ibbotson, 59.

READ ALSO :  Italian football legend, Antonio Cassano claims Cristiano Ronaldo 'is not even in the top 5' greatest players of all-time
Emiliano Sala had been presented as a Cardiff player
Emiliano Sala had been presented as a Cardiff player

Ms Keely told the hearing on Wednesday that she had emailed Henderson on July 6 2018, saying Mr Ibbotson should not fly the aircraft again after she was notified by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) of two infringements that had happened while he was in the air.

She later found out that Henderson had hired Mr Ibbotson again, this time to pilot a flight carrying her sister a month later, in August 2018.

Mr Ibbotson hasn't been found following the crash
Mr Ibbotson hasn’t been found following the crash

“I found out after the event that he was unavailable and had asked David Ibbotson to fly instead of him.”

READ ALSO :  FIFA finally gives verdict on South Africa's protest against Ghana

“He allowed that to happen without my permission,” she added.

Asked by defence counsel Stephen Spence QC if she had warned Henderson not to hire Mr Ibbotson again, she said: “No. As far as I was concerned I had made my feelings clear that he shouldn’t be flying the aircraft.”

The court has already heard that Mr Ibbotson did not hold a commercial pilot’s licence, was not allowed to fly at night, and that his rating to fly the Piper Malibu had expired.

READ ALSO :  Cristiano Ronaldo arrives for Man United training in £170k Lamborghini ahead second debut
David Henderson is currently facing a trial accused of endangering the safety of an aircraft
David Henderson is currently facing a trial accused of endangering the safety of an aircraft (Image: PA)

Despite this, when Henderson was unavailable to fly the plane carrying Sala between Nantes and Cardiff in January because he was away with his wife in Paris, he hired Mr Ibbotson again.

Jurors also heard that, hours after the night-time crash, Henderson had messaged aircraft engineer David Smith telling him to “keep very quiet” and adding “need to be very careful. Opens up a whole can of worms”.

Mr Smith, an employee of aircraft maintenance company Eastern Air Executive, said he had become aware of some issues with the aircraft on January 21 before it was due to fly back from France to the UK and insisted it was checked by a French engineer.

The trial continues.

Drop your comment below 👇

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Support BrownGH to help us become better

Subscribe to our newsletter

To be updated with all the latest news, offers and special announcements.