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Emiliano Sala: Pilot, 64, arrested on suspicion of manslaughter over footballer's death

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A pilot has been arrested over the death of Premier League footballer Emiliano Sala, who was a passenger on a light aircraft that crashed into the English Channel.


Detectives said they had arrested a 64-year-old man from North Yorkshire on suspicion of manslaughter by an unlawful act.

He was arrested yesterday and was released under investigation. 

The man was named in reports as pilot David Henderson, who had arranged for a fellow pilot to take Sala on a return trip from France.

Sala, 28, had just signed for Cardiff City from French side Nantes when a plane carrying him crashed into the English Channel north of Guernsey on January 21.

Pilot David Henderson (BBC)

His body was brought to Portland Port in Dorset on February 7, with police investigating the circumstances of his death.

Mr Henderson, 64, from York, is a private pilot who worked regularly for Willie McKay, an agent linked to Sala’s transfer from FC Nantes.

Detective Inspector Simon Huxter, of Dorset Police‘s Major Crime Investigation Team (MCIT), said: “We have carried out a wide-ranging investigation into the circumstances of the death of Mr Sala and continue to work with partner agencies including the Civil Aviation Authority.

Sala, 28, had just signed for Cardiff City from Nantes when a plane carrying him crashed into the English Channel north of Guernsey on January 21 (AFP/Getty Images)

“As part of this investigation we have to consider whether there is any evidence of any suspected criminality and as a result of our enquiries we have today, Wednesday 19 June 2019, arrested a 64-year-old man from the North Yorkshire area on suspicion of manslaughter by an unlawful act.

“He is assisting with our enquiries and has been released from custody under investigation.”

Family liaison officers have been updating the families of Mr Sala and David Ibbotson, the pilot of the plane that lost contact with Air Traffic Control north of Guernsey.

The body of Mr Ibbotson, 59, from Crowle, Lincolnshire, who was flying the plane from Nantes in France to Cardiff on January 21, has not yet been located.

Det Insp Huxter added: “This matter therefore is still subject to a live investigation and I would ask the media and members of the public to refrain from speculation, as this could cause additional distress to the families involved as well as potentially hinder the investigation.

“As is standard practice, we will not be releasing any further information as to the identity of the individual who has been arrested unless that person is charged to appear in court and again would discourage any speculation in relation to this.”

Earlier this month, Wiltshire Police said two people would face charges over a photograph showing Mr Sala at the Holly Tree Lodge mortuary in Bournemouth.

Sherry Bray, 48, has been summonsed for three counts of computer misuse, perverting the court of justice and sending an indecent/offensive message.

Christopher Ashford, 62, has been summonsed in relation to six counts of computer misuse.

The pair, who were arrested in February, will appear before Swindon Magistrates’ Court on July 10.

In April, the footballer’s father Horacio Sala, 58, died of a suspected heart attack.

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