David Henderson, 67, was on trial in Cardiff for recklessness or negligence which could have endangered the device in which the 28-year-old was traveling to join the Cardiff City club.
After more than seven hours of deliberation, the popular jury declared him guilty and his sentence is due on November 12. He faces five years in prison.
He also faces two years of detention for prosecutions concerning the transport of a passenger without valid authorization, a charge for which he pleaded guilty and therefore on which the jury did not have to rule.
The small private plane aboard which the Argentinian player and the pilot David Ibbotson was aboard crashed in the English Channel on January 21, 2019. The FC Nantes striker was joining the Cardiff City club, where he had just been transferred for 17 million euros.
The body of the player, whose disappearance had moved the football world, was found in the carcass of the device, more than two weeks after the accident, at a depth of 67 meters. The body of the pilot, 59, has not been found.
According to the version developed by the prosecution during the trial, the defendant was initially supposed to pilot the device but, on vacation in Paris with his wife, he had entrusted the transport to David Ibbotson. The latter did not have a commercial pilot license, his qualification for this type of aircraft had expired and he was not competent to fly at night.
In its final report published in March 2020, the British Aviation Accident Investigation Bureau estimated that the pilot lost control of the aircraft during a maneuver performed at too high a speed, “probably” intended to avoid bad weather.
Emiliano Sala’s remains were repatriated in February 2019 to Argentina.