The businessman who organised the 2019 flight that crashed, killing Argentine footballer Emiliano Sala, has been found guilty of endangering the safety of an aircraft.

David Henderson, 67, was convicted by a majority verdict over the death of the player by a jury at Cardiff Crown Court.

The plane carrying the 28-year-old striker crashed into the English Channel in January 2019, killing him and pilot David Ibbotson, 59.

Sala had signed for Cardiff City, who were then in the Premier League, for a club-record £15 million (€18m) from French side Nantes.

It took the jury of seven men and five women seven-and-a-half hours to convict Henderson, the aircraft operator, whom the trial heard had arranged the flight with football agent William "Willie" McKay.

He had asked Mr Ibbotson to fly the plane as he was away on holiday with his wife in Paris.

Mr Ibbotson, who regularly flew for him, did not hold a commercial pilot's licence, a qualification to fly at night, and his rating to fly the single-engine Piper Malibu had expired.

The jury heard how just moments after finding out the plane had gone down, Henderson texted a number of people telling them to stay silent, warning it would "open a can of worms".

The former RAF officer admitted in court he had feared an investigation into his business dealings.

Henderson had already admitted a separate offence of attempting to discharge a passenger without valid permission or authorisation.

The judge granted Henderson bail to return to be sentenced for both offences on 12 November.

He faces maximum sentences of five years' imprisonment for endangering the aircraft and two years for the lesser charge.

The family of Emiliano Sala has welcomed the conviction but they still have unanswered questions, their solicitor said.

Daniel Machover, of Hickman & Rose solicitors, said: "Mr Henderson's convictions are welcome and we hope the CAA will ensure that illegal flights of this kind are stopped. The actions of David Henderson are only one piece in the puzzle of how the plane David Ibbotson was illegally flying came to crash into the sea on 21 January 2019.

"We still do not know the key information about the maintenance history of the aircraft and all the factors behind the carbon monoxide poisoning revealed in August 2019 by AAIB.

"The answers to these questions can only be properly established at Emiliano's inquest, which is due to start in February next year.

"The Sala family fervently hope that everyone involved in the inquest will provide full disclosure of material without further delay, including Piper Aircraft Inc and the AAIB. This should ensure that the inquest can fulfil its function of fully and fearlessly examining the evidence so that all the facts emerge.

"Only if that happens will Emiliano's family finally know the truth about this tragedy enabling all the lessons to be learned, so that no family goes through a similar preventable death."

Additional reporting PA