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Emiliano Sala: man who organised fatal flight ‘knew pilot was unqualified’

Emiliano Sala

Emiliano Sala: man who organised fatal flight ‘knew pilot was unqualified’

A plane operator who organised the flight in which the footballer Emiliano Sala was killed knew the pilot was not qualified to fly at night and was not competent in bad weather, a jury has been told.

The court heard that when David Henderson was told the plane piloted by David Ibbotson had crashed into the sea he messaged a friend: “Ibbo has crashed the Malibu and killed himself and VIP pax [passenger]! Bloody disaster. There will be an enquiry.”

He told another contact: “Opens up a whole can of worms. Keep very quiet”. And he sent a note to the plane’s engineer: “Don’t say a word to anyone.”

The single-engine Piper Malibu aircraft was flying the 28-year-old Argentinian striker from Nantes in France to Wales, where he was to join Cardiff City, then a Premier League side.

It crashed on 21 January 2019 north of Guernsey. Sala’s body was recovered from the seabed the following month, but neither the body of Ibbotson, 59, from Crowle, Lincolnshire, nor the plane’s wreckage have been recovered.

Henderson, 67, of Hotham, in the East Riding of Yorkshire, denies acting in a reckless or negligent manner likely to endanger the aircraft. The court heard how Henderson, himself a pilot, was not available to fly the aircraft himself as he was away with his wife in Paris.

The jury at Cardiff crown court heard that the football agent Willie McKay asked Henderson to arrange for Sala to be flown from Nantes to the UK. Henderson sent McKay a note: “Can you ping me over £4k as float?”

Martin Goudie QC told the jury that Henderson organised for Ibbotson to carry Sala even though he did not have a commercial pilot’s licence and he was not competent to fly in poor weather.

Goudie said: “Mr Henderson acted either negligently or recklessly in a manner that was likely to endanger [the plane] and those on it. He ignored certain requirements when it suited him and his business interests.”

The jury was told there were issues with Ibbotson’s flying the year before the tragedy. A message from a friend to Henderson in the summer of 2018 after a flight involving the pilot read: “The Ibbotson experience was interesting! He was all over the place.”

In an exchange of messages between Henderson and Ibbotson at around the same time, the operator wrote: “We both have an opportunity to make money out of the business model but not if we upset clients or draw the attention of the CAA [the Civil Aviation Authority].”

On the morning of 19 January Henderson raised the issue of bad weather with Ibbotson. The pilot flew to Nantes and informed Henderson he had had difficulties with the plane. The time for the flight back to Cardiff was pushed back to after dark on 21 January.

Goudie said: “He [Henderson] raised no issue with Mr Ibbotson flying at such a time even though he knew full well Mr Ibbotson was not qualified to fly at night.”

At 9.23pm the coastguard spoke to Henderson about the crash. He quickly contacted engineer David Smith and told him: “Don’t say a word to anyone.”

Goudie said: “The wording of this message was interesting – it’s not: ‘Isn’t it a disaster someone we’ve been working with has gone missing’; it is instead just: “Don’t say a word to anyone’.”

The prosecutor said Ibbotson had never held a commercial pilot’s licence, so he should not have been paid for being a pilot. Nor did he have a “night rating”, required for a flight to be flown between half an hour after sunset to half an hour before sunrise

The trial continues.

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Osun Transport Masterplan to Be Ready Soon-Governor Adeleke

Governor Ademola Adeleke has announced his administration’s plan to release to the public the Osun State Transport Master Plan to facilitate integrated connectivity for the Osun economy.

The Governor made the announcement on Thursday while commissioning the Osun State Computerised Vehicle Inspection Testing Center at Osogbo.

The Governor who narrated a series of ongoing reforms being delivered by his government said “The test center right here is the first of its kind among other interventions of our administration to reposition the State’s Transportation sector

According to the State Governor, “Our government is pursuing reforms across the transport sector. We ensure that Commercial Motorcycle operators across the State are registered under a database with a rider’s jacket and identification card for safety purposes. Mini-buses, popularly known as (Korope) have also been registered and numbered for easy identification and security.

“We have introduced single ticketing to all commercial drivers in the State through the Osun State Transport Management System (OSTMS) to guide against leakage of revenue.

“It is equally my pleasure to inform the public that our administration is working on a Transportation Master plan for Osun state. We are focused on a multimodal plan that will integrate all modes of transportation within the state. It will lay our objectives and strategic agenda for land, air, and water transportation.

“The plan is to regulate, plan, and develop an efficient and well-integrated transport system that will serve the public interest, enhance mobility, and deliver a secure and environmentally friendly Public Transportation System in different areas across Osun.

“The plan is central to our five-point agenda as it focuses on connectivity within and outside the state. Osun is centrally located in the heart of Yorubaland.

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Adeleke speaks on collapse of OAU amphitheatre

Governor Ademola Adeleke of Osun has promised to pay the medical bills of students injured in the Obafemi Awolowo University(OAU), Ile-Ife, Amphitheatre roof collapse.

The affected students are receiving treatment at the University Health Centre and the Teaching Hospital Complex (OAUTHC), Ile-Ife.

Adeleke, who was represented by the Commissioner for Education, Dipo Eluwole, sympathised with the management of the University and parents of the affected students on the unfortunate incident.

This is contained in a statement issued by the Public Relations Officer of the University, Mr Abiodun Olarewaju, in Ile-Ife on Saturday.

The commissioner was conducted round the scene of the incident by the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Simeon Bamire, and other principal officers of the University, and visited the two health facilities where the students are receiving treatment.

He expressed happiness that the affected students are responding to the treatment.

Eluwole lauded the university management for its quick response to the emergency and prompt medical attention given to the students.

Speaking to the four students being treated at the University Health and Medical Centre, the commissioner commended their bravery and wished them quick recovery.

At the Neurological ward of the University Teaching Hospital where two other students are being treated, Eluwole pleaded with their parents to see what happened as a natural occurrence.

He, thereafter, informed the vice chancellor that the Gov. Adeleke pledged to bankroll all medical expenses that may be incurred in the course of the treatment of the students.

Responding, the vice-chancellor thanked the governor for being so kind and loving, stressing that his fatherly role to the students and the good people of Osun is commendable.

A torrential rain on Thursday morning, accompanied with a whirlwind affected a part of the ceiling of the Amphitheatre as it fell off and injured some students.

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Woman burns stepchildren’s hands for eating rice prepared for their father

The Adamawa State Police Command has arrested one Rachel Geoffrey, a 23-year-old woman and resident of Federal Housing Estate, Girei, for allegedly setting fire to the hands of her stepchildren.

The children, Genesis Geoffrey, seven years old: and Idadai Geoffrey, three years old, now have their affected hands bandaged.

The Police Public Relations Officer in the state, SP Suleiman Nguroje, said in a statement that Rachel intentionally inflicted severe physical injuries on her stepchildren.

In the statement released Saturday, the police image maker said the incident occurred on Tuesday, May 14.

He said the children suffered several calculated acts of cruelty and human rights violations from their stepmother.

He explained that the children faced the wrath of the woman over a plate of rice she cooked and kept for her husband.

“The kids, because of hunger, ate their father’s food and that angered her. She then tied their hands with a handkerchief and set fire to them, resulting in the severe injuries they sustained,” Nguroje explained.

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