UK News

Emiliano Sala: No further action after manslaughter arrest

Emiliano Sala posing with a Cardiff City shirt on 20 JanuaryImage copyright BBC Sport
Image caption Emiliano Sala signed for Cardiff City just two days before he was killed in the plane crash

A man arrested on suspicion of manslaughter over the death of footballer Emiliano Sala will face no further action.

The Argentine striker, 28, was killed in a plane crash along with pilot David Ibbotson just two days after signing for Cardiff City in January 2019.

In June, Dorset Police arrested a 64-year-old man from North Yorkshire.

The force said it would “not be seeking a formal charging decision by the CPS in relation to homicide offences”.

Det Insp Simon Huxter said: “We have carried out a detailed examination into the circumstances of Mr Sala’s death, this has been a complex investigation involving the examination of a large amount of evidence and in liaison with a range of organisations.

“An investigation into the operation of the flight continues and this is being led by the CAA and therefore it would be inappropriate for us to make any further comment at this time.”

He said Sala’s family had been updated about the decision.

Image copyright David Ibbotson
Image caption David Ibbotson’s body has not been found

Sala was travelling from Nantes to Cardiff on 21 January 2019 when the single-engine Piper Malibu N264DB aircraft he was travelling in lost contact with air traffic control north of Guernsey.

His body was recovered in February 2019 but the body of Mr Ibbotson, 59, from Crowle, North Lincolnshire, has not been found.

The footballer was signed by Cardiff City for £15m, but never played for the club.

His death sparked a row between the Bluebirds and his former club Nantes over whether the transfer fee should be paid.

Last month, the deadline for Cardiff City to pay its first instalment of the transfer fee was extended until 27 February.

Three months after Sala was killed, his father Horacio Sala, who had been critical of his son’s treatment, died at the age of 58 after having a heart attack.

After the crash, an official search was called off on 24 January 2019 after Guernsey’s harbour master said the chances of survival were “extremely remote”.

But an online appeal started by Sala’s agent raised £324,000 (371,000 euros) for a private search and his body was recovered 24 nautical miles north of Guernsey on 6 February 2019.

Image copyright AAIB/PA
Image caption The AAIB released this photograph of the wreckage of the Piper Malibu

Sources subsequently told BBC Wales Mr Ibbotson’s pilot licence restricted him to “flights by day only”.

Flight plans indicated the flight had been scheduled to leave Nantes airport at 09:00 local time on 21 January, but was postponed until 19:00 to allow the footballer to spend the day saying goodbye to his Nantes teammates.

An interim report, published by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB), said Mr Ibbotson was not licensed to carry paying passengers.

In August, the AAIB said toxicology tests showed that prior to the crash, Sala was exposed to high levels of carbon monoxide that were great enough to cause a seizure, unconsciousness or a heart attack.

It is likely Mr Ibbotson would also have been exposed to carbon monoxide.

Last month, the UK government said it would look at how “grey” charter flights can be prevented following the crash, and the House of Lords heard the use of “unlicensed air taxis” was a growing problem in the aviation industry.

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