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Emiliano Sala’s family want ‘full truth’ as they mark the anniversary of his death

The Argentinian footballer was killed when the plane he was travelling in crashed north of Guernsey in 2019.

A portrait of Emiliano Sala is displayed at the front of St David's Cathedral, Cardiff.
A portrait of Emiliano Sala is displayed at the front of St David's Cathedral, Cardiff.
Image: Jacob King via PA Images

THE FAMILY OF footballer Emiliano Sala say they are still awaiting the “full truth” behind his death as they mark two years since the aircraft he was in crashed into the English Channel.

The single-engine Piper Malibu plane carrying the 28-year-old Argentinian, who was involved in a multimillion-pound transfer from FC Nantes in France to Cardiff City FC, crashed north of Guernsey on 21 January 2019.

His body was recovered the following month, but the aircraft’s unqualified pilot, David Ibbotson, aged 59, from Crowle, Lincolnshire, has not been found.

David Henderson, who is alleged to have arranged the flight, is due to stand trial in October accused of endangering the safety of an aircraft, as well as attempting to discharge a passenger without valid permission or authorisation.

2.40884461 Emiliano Sala’s mother Mercedes (left) and sister Romina (right) arrive back at Guernsey airport. Source: PA Images

An inquest into Sala’s death cannot take place until proceedings involving Mr Henderson are completed, but the footballer’s family say they want a start date from senior coroner for Dorset, Rachael Griffin, so to avoid “another bleak anniversary”.

Today, Daniel Machover, a lawyer who represents the family, said: “It is a tragedy that two years have passed since Emiliano’s death and we still do not know exactly how and why he died.

“An inquest is the only way to establish the full truth.
“I very much hope that the Dorset Coroner will now set a date for the inquest to start immediately after David Henderson’s trial, so that Emiliano’s family do not have to endure another bleak anniversary with no answers.”

A report by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) previously concluded that the aircraft carrying Sala and Ibbotson suffered an in-flight break-up while being flown too fast for its design limits, and that the pilot lost control while attempting to avoid bad weather.

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It added that Ibbotson was probably affected by carbon monoxide poisoning.

Investigators found that a contributory factor in the crash was Ibbotson having no training in night flying, and a lack of recent practice in relying only on cockpit instruments to control a plane.

And they found that he held a private pilot’s licence that did not allow him to conduct flights for reward.

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