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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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NSCDC To Deploy 30,000 Officers For 2023 Elections

The Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) has disclosed that it will deploy 30,000 operatives to ensure peace during the upcoming general elections in Nigeria.

This was disclosed by the Commandant- General of the NSCDC, Dr Ahmed Audi at the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) Forum in Abuja on Sunday,

He said the operatives would be deployed nationwide to maintain peace.

He said the NSCDC has perfected plans to deploy all resources needed to provide security during the election.

“The corps is poised fairly, and ready to apply all the arsenals needed to provide security and safety for the elections.

“We have an operations department of over 30,000 personnel but then we will also deploy others when the time comes.

“Normally we have the bulk of our people in operations and those who are in operations partake in election processes,” he said.

Audi said that the corps had also perfected plans to begin seminars and workshops in October to discuss the preparedness of the organization towards the general elections.

“We want to tell our people that if you go and involve yourself by becoming partisan you are on your own.

“There are certain things we have introduced in our Standard Operating Procedure — that once you go partisan and you are caught, you will face sanctions and you are on your own.

“So we are ready to partake in the election like I said because we are apolitical and we are going to provide a level-playing field for all citizens to be involved in the elections and exercise their franchise.”

Audi said that the NSCDC partook in election activities because it’s a member of the Inter-agency, Consultative Committee on Election Security.

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NSIA Not Stakeholder In Nigeria Air- F.G

Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, has declared that the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) is not an investor in the Nigeria Air project.

Sirika made the clarification in a statement issued by James Odaudu, his special assistant on public affairs, on Saturday.

The minister had listed NSIA as part of the local investors with stakes in the national carrier.

He said the NSIA is not part of the private equity ownership of the airline, adding that the error was made during his media briefing.

“We wish to clarify that the Authority (NSIA) is not part of the private equity ownership of the airline, being a government establishment,” Sirika said.

“For the avoidance of doubt, the equity ownership structure of Nigeria Air stands as Ethiopian Airlines 49%, Nigerian private investors (SAHCO, MRS and other institutional investors) 46% and the Federal Government 5%.

“The public, especially the business community and the media, should please note”, the statement added.

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Nigerians Not Ripe Enough To Bear Arms- NSCDC

Nigerians are not ripe to be allowed to bear arms.

This is according to the Commandant General of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, Dr Ahmed Audi who made the observation when he attended the News Agency of Nigeria Forum in Abuja.

“I strongly disapproved of it. Even now that there is no law in existence, you still have proliferation of small arms and light weapons in the hands of people.

“It has to do with civilisation and education.

“Even in Europe and America where they have that law where virtually everybody once you can drive can have arms, they are trying to control it now because of how some events unfold.

“In the world, especially in Europe and America, somebody will just wake up and just go to a school and open fire on kids. You know that is madness.

“And so for me, I don’t think we are there yet to allow citizens carry arms” , he said.


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