Brit pilot David Henderson 66, originally set to fly Emiliano Sala over Channel is charged over footie star’s death

THE pilot who was meant to fly Emiliano Sala is being prosecuted over the doomed flight which crashed taking the footballer to Cardiff.

David Henderson, 66, recruited David Ibbotson in his place, asking him "do you want a weekend in Nantes?".

Sala had been playing for the French city’s team but the 28-year-old Argentinian was involved in a multimillion-pound transfer to Cardiff City.

He was killed when the plane he was travelling in crashed north of Guernsey on January 21, 2019.

The footballer’s body was recovered the following month, but the body of 59-year-old Ibbotson has not been found.

Henderson was originally feared to be on the plane because his bank details had been used to book the flight.

The Civil Aviation Authority has said it has charged him with two offences under the Air Navigation Order (2016).

He is accused of acting in a "reckless/negligent" manner, and being involved in the commercial use of the plane involved in the crash.

Henderson of the East Riding of Yorkshire, appeared at Cardiff Magistrates' Court on September 28 and was bailed to appear at Cardiff Crown Court on October 26.

Daniel Machover of law firm Hickman and Rose – which is representing the footballer's mother, Mercedes Taffarel, said she “welcomes the prosecution of David Henderson”.

But he added she is “disappointed that it has today resulted in what may be a further significant delay to the inquest into Emiliano's death”.

"His mother remains desperate to know the full truth about how this could have been allowed to happen, and urges the CAA to proceed with its criminal prosecution as swiftly as possible, so an inquest can be held to establish this, and that similar deaths are prevented."

Unlicensed charter flight operations – known as grey charters – generally incur lower operating costs.

Former football agent Willie McKay has said he paid for the fatal flight, but did not choose the pilot or the plane.

He has explained he was helping his son Mark, who was acting for Nantes, to complete the transfer.

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