- Emiliano Sala death
Image caption, Flight organiser David Henderson has been jailed for 18 months
The man who organised the flight which killed footballer Emiliano Sala and pilot David Ibbotson has been sentenced to 18 months in prison.
David Henderson, 67, of Hotham, East Riding of Yorkshire, was found guilty last month of recklessly endangering the safety of an aircraft.
He also admitted to a charge of trying to arrange a flight for a passenger without permission or authorisation.
Sala and Mr Ibbotson died in January 2019 in a crash in the English Channel.
The footballer's body was found about two-and-a-half weeks after the crash, though Mr Ibbotson, the pilot, has never been found.
The judge, Mr Justice Foxton said Henderson had shown "a cavalier attitude" and had not kept even the most basic records.
He added that Henderson had intentionally breached Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) regulations "for reason of profit", and was "reckless, not merely negligent".
David Henderson's lawyer has said his legal team will consider an appeal against his conviction.
Image source, Getty Images/David IbbotsonImage caption, Emiliano Sala's body was recovered but pilot David Ibbotson has never been found
The Argentine striker had completed a £15m transfer from Nantes to Cardiff City and was travelling between the two cities at the time of the crash.
The charge of endangering the safety of an aircraft related to two flights, an outward flight from Cardiff to Nantes on 19 January and the return flight, which crashed near Alderney, on 21 January.
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The trial heard Mr Ibbotson, 59, of Crowle, Lincolnshire, regularly flew for Henderson, but he did not have a commercial licence for carrying passengers, nor did he have the correct certification to fly at night and his rating to fly the aircraft used – a single-engine Piper Malibu – had expired.
Henderson was supposed to fly the plane, but was on holiday with his wife in Paris, so asked Mr Ibbotson to do the journey.
Image caption, The plane disappeared off radar off the coast of Alderney in the Channel Islands
Just moments after finding out the plane had gone down, Henderson texted a number of people telling them to stay silent, warning it would "open a can of worms", the jury was told.
The trial also heard how the owner of the plane had told Henderson not to allow Mr Ibbotson to fly the aircraft again after he committed two airspace infringements while piloting it.
After the hearing, David Henderson's lawyer said his client wished to pay his respects to the families of the two men and was considering an appeal.
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Andrew Shanahan said: "It is important to point out that the Civil Aviation Authority have always accepted that the way in which the flight was arranged and operated did not cause the aircraft to crash.
"In due course, the coroner at the inquest will make the ultimate decision about what caused the crash, but a report prepared by the Air Accident Investigation Branch suggests that a failure of part of the aircraft exhaust system led to Mr Ibbotson becoming incapacitated and thereby unable to maintain control of the aircraft.
"The Civil Aviation Authority have always accepted that the aircraft was properly maintained and, therefore, any defect was not known or foreseen by Mr Henderson."
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Rob Bishton, group director of safety and airspace regulation at the UK Civil Aviation Authority, said: "Our thoughts remain with the families and friends that were affected by this tragic accident in January 2019.
"Illegal commercial flights represent a significant safety risk and that is reflected in the court's decision today.
"The aviation system relies on the integrity of all those involved. Anyone operating a commercial flight should always have the necessary licence and approvals in place."