The businessman who organized the 2019 flight which crashed, killing Argentinian footballer Emiliano Sala, was found guilty on Thursday of endangering the safety of a plane.
David Henderson, 67, was found guilty with a 10-2 majority verdict for the player’s death by a jury at Cardiff Crown Court.
The plane carrying Sala, 28, crashed in the English Channel in January 2019, killing attacker and pilot David Ibbotson, 59.
Sala had signed for Cardiff City, then in the Premier League, for a club record of £ 15million (€ 18million, $ 20million) from French side Nantes.
It took a seven-and-a-half-hour jury of seven men and five women to convict Henderson, the operator of the plane, who the trial heard of staging the flight with football agent William “Willie” McKay.
He had asked Ibbotson to fly the plane while he was on vacation with his wife in Paris.
Ibbotson, who flew regularly for him, did not hold a commercial pilot’s license, a rating to fly at night, and his rating to fly the single-engine Piper Malibu had expired.
The jury heard that moments after discovering the plane had crashed, Henderson texted a number of people telling them to remain silent, warning them that he would “open a box of worms.”
The former RAF officer admitted in court that he feared an investigation into his business relationship.
Henderson had previously admitted to a separate offense of attempting to unload a passenger without valid clearance or clearance.
The judge granted Henderson bail to be re-convicted of both offenses on November 12.
He faces maximum sentences of five years in prison for endangering the plane and two years for the lower count.