CCTV workers who accessed mortuary footage of Emiliano Sala jailed
- CCTV workers accessed footage of footballer Emiliano Sala's post-mortem
- His body was recovered in February and a post-mortem was held the next day
- Sherry Bray and Christopher Ashford admitted illegally accessing the footage
- Bray also took mobile phone grabs later shared on social media by ghouls
- She was jailed for 14 months today - Ashford jailed for five months for the crime
A 'wicked and evil' CCTV company director and her colleague who took 'horrible photos' of Emiliano Sala's dead body were both jailed for a total of 19 months today.
Sherry Bray and Christopher Ashford, who repeatedly watched the grisly film of the dead footballer's post-mortem, were put behind bars at Swindon Crown Court after admitting the ghoulish crime.
Mr Sala, 28, who had just signed for Cardiff City when the small plane he was travelling in crashed into the English Channel, was taken to Britain by boat after being recovered from the wreckage on the seabed.
Bray and Ashford used their access to CCTV cameras at Bournemouth mortuary to watch his post-mortem and grab images of his corpse on a phone.
Company director Bray, who was jailed for 14 months today for three counts of computer misuse and perverting the course of justice, sent it to a relative on Facebook and the horrific image of Sala's body was then shared around the world via social media.
Ashford was also jailed for five months for illegally accessing footage of Sala's corpse.
Judge Peter Crabtree said: 'You were both driven by morbid curiosity. You have both abused your positions and the access you had in quite an appalling way.
'You both knew it would be a gross intrusion on privacy and respect for the deceased and cause considerable distress to his family if they became aware of that'.
The judge said that both defendants used the CCTV system to replay the footage of the footballer's post-mortem examination and took screenshots.
Bray sent a screenshot to her youngest daughter, while Ashford let a friend photograph the screenshot he had taken.
'By those actions, you both showed a level of disrespect such that if knowledge of your conduct became public, as it did, it would cause considerable harm, and risk wider promulgation of any photograph you had taken,' the judge said.
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After realising that police were investigating, Bray deleted the file from her phone and asked Ashford to do the same but they were arrested and prosecuted with three counts of computer misuse.
On Friday Romina Sala said in a victim impact statement read to the court that should could not forget seeing the image of her brother's body for the first time on Instagram.
She said: 'I'll never erase the images from my head. My brother and mother can never forget about this. It's hard for me to live with this image.'
She added: 'I cannot believe there are people so wicked and evil who could do that'.
Sala said her family was left devastated after images of her brother's body began to leak on to Instagram just days after being recovered from the English Channel.
On Friday, a victim impact statement from Argentina-based Ms Sala was read to Swindon Crown Court where Sherry Bray, 49, and her employee Christopher Ashford, 62, were being sentenced for accessing the footage.
Ms Sala said: 'I have seen photos of Emiliano's body leaked on Instagram. I phoned Emiliano's agent and told him what was circulating on the internet. I called our brother, Dario, and he did not want to see the photos.
'I tried to keep images off social networks. My mother could not see those horrible photos.
'I was sad as people were making jokes about it'.
Mr Sala, 28, had just signed for Cardiff City when the plane he was travelling in crashed into the English Channel, north of Guernsey, on January 21.
His body was recovered and brought to Britain by boat on February 6 before a post-mortem examination took place at Bournemouth Borough Mortuary the following day.
Bray, 49, the director of Camera Security Services Limited in Chippenham, Wiltshire, and her employee Ashford, 62, then accessed footage of the procedure being conducted on Mr Sala.
They then replayed the grizzly footage before Bray took a picture of it on her mobile phone and sent it to a family member on Facebook Messenger, leading to it being widely shared on social media.
Evidence from Bray's phone also revealed that she had taken a picture of another body in the mortuary, a man called Andrew Latchem who had previously died in non-suspicious circumstances.
Bray, of Corsham, and Ashford, of Calne, each admitted three counts of computer misuse at Swindon Crown Court in August.
Bray also admitted perverting the course of justice by instructing Ashford to 'delete your pics', deleting the post-mortem cameras from the live feed camera facility and deleting the mortuary image of Mr Sala from her phone.
Police then seized Bray's phone and, when looking through her camera roll, found two recently-deleted images on her personal camera, of the screen showing Sala's autopsy.
Mr Welling also read to the court a text message exchange between Bray and Ashford at 14.26 on February 7 - whilst the footballer's autopsy was taking place.
The first message, from Bray, read: 'Nice one on table for you to watch when you are next in', followed by an emoji of a face being sick, Mr Welling said.
Ashford replied: 'Not from the plane that crashed into the sea?'.
He then sent a follow-up text which read: 'Saw on the news this morning that body was being taken to Dorset, so guessed we might see it.'
A later text exchange was also found between the two defendants, after Bray's daughter's boyfriend made her aware of the existence of the image online on February 12.
A panicked Bray instructed Ashford to 'delete your pics', before the two then discussed deleting CSS's live feed of the two autopsy room cameras.
Over the course of four police interviews, Bray admitted watching live footage of Sala's autopsy on February 7, and re-accessing it whilst on shift the following day.
'She said it was 'just there', and that she had been aware of the activity of police vehicles at the mortuary, and knew something big was going on,' Mr Welling said.
When asked in interview whether she had the authority to watch it, she replied: 'I have the authority to watch all the cameras, as long as I'm not abusing it - which I have done.'
She added: 'I don't sit there watching mortuary footage all day, I'm not sick. Although I am sick, because I've just done that.'
Bray initially admitted taking one photo, but then later owned up to the second image - but she insists she was not the one who shared the images online, stating that Twitter is 'stupid'.
She said that CSS is a company of approximately 20 people, and made clear that there were others 'milling around' at the time the image was taken during Sala's autopsy.
And in Ashford's police interview, Mr Welling said that the 62-year-old 'co-operated fully' and was 'open and honest'.
Ashford, who worked as a night-shift camera operative at CSS for 13 years, admitted that he had watched mortuary footage in the past, and had a 'morbid obsession' with forensics.
Ashford admitted he had accessed parts of Sala's autopsy six times over three days, on February 9, 10, and 11, so he could watch it.
He also told police he had taken one photo pre-autopsy, but said he deleted it prior to police involvement, 'because he thought it was the wrong thing to do.'
But Mr Welling told the court that it was clear that Bray had allowed a 'culture' to become embedded at CSS whereby she and other staff would watch autopsies 'as and when' on the mortuary CCTV footage.
Meanwhile, Richard Latcham - the son of Bray's other victim, Andrew Latcham - said the image Bray took of his father has cost him over £5,000 in counselling and lost earnings.
Addressing Bray directly in his impact statement, he said: 'Why would you do such a thing?
'This was such an unbelievably cruel and unnecessary act that bears no resemblance to the fabulous man my father was.
'Not for a minute did you stop to think about the impact your actions would have on the families of those you photographed.'
Mr Latcham told how his father took his own life in December 2017 after three months as a missing person, after being 'tormented' by mental illness for a number of years.
He said: 'My dad was kind and considerate with a sharp intellect, and brought joy to his family with an anecdote, a wry smile, and an act of kindness.
'Sherry Bray's actions have created a distortion of our memories of my dad, and put an unnecessary burden on all of our family relationships.'
He added: 'I was shocked and stunned when I found out that Sherry Bray was a company director.'
Defending Bray, Nicholas Cotter said: 'She is not your standard criminal.
'She is a lady with an impeccable work history, who has raised her two daughter single-handedly.
'She has made a profound mistake by switching on a computer and taking an image of it. It is a mistake that will stay with her for a long time.
'She fully accepts the distress and upset she has caused to the families of Mr Sala and Mr Latcham.
'She has no computer skills - she simply pressed a button on a computer.
'Miss Bray should have known better, she had the responsibility to know better - but she opened Pandora's box,' Mr Cotter said.
And representing Ashford, Thomas Horder said that this is the 'biggest mistake he has ever made'.
Mr Horder said: 'Not only is he deeply sorry, but he really is devastated and ashamed by his actions.
'He is not responsible for this image getting on to the Internet.
'He did not stop for one minute to think of the potential impact of his actions on others. He was acting on his own unhealthy interest.'
Mr Horder also said that it is unlikely Ashford rewatched Sala's mortuary footage as many times as he is charged with.
He described how Ashford's job required him to sit in front of a bank of three very large computer screens - each divided into smaller screens showing the feeds from every camera CSS operates.
He said: 'I don't want Your Honour to think that on a number of occasions he is playing the same footage over and over.
'The footage is playing in the corner of the larger screen whilst he is responding to different alerts.
Emiliano Sala was killed on January 21 when a plane carrying him crashed two days after he had signed a £15million transfer to Cardiff City from French club Nantes.
It was around ten days later that professional wreck-hunters employed by his family located the missing plane after coastguard in the Channel Islands gave up because of storms.
The UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch said that both Sala and pilot David Ibbotson, 59, whose body has not yet been found, had been exposed to harmful levels of carbon monoxide.
Tests on the striker's body found enough evidence of the gas to cause a heart attack, seizure or unconsciousness.
It is likely that Mr Ibbotson was also 'affected to some extent' by exposure to carbon monoxide, a report added.
The AAIB said the gas can 'reduce or inhibit a pilot's ability to fly an aircraft depending on the level of that exposure'.
After a major search for the plane in January, Sala's body was found and taken to Dorset on February 7. An inquest soon after heard he died of severe injuries to the head and upper body.
The AAIB said it was working with the aircraft and engine manufacturers and the National Transportation Safety Board in the US 'to identify possible pathways through which CO might enter the cabin of this type of aircraft.
'Work is also continuing to investigate pertinent operational, technical, organisational and human factors which might have contributed to the accident.'
A man and a woman who worked for a CCTV company have been jailed for illegally accessing and watching footage of the footballer Emiliano Sala's post-mortem. Company director Sherry Bray, 49, and employee Christopher Ashford, 62,
A CCTV company director and her employee have been jailed for illegally accessing footage of footballer Emiliano Sala's body in the mortuary. Mr Sala, 28, had just signed for Cardiff City when the plane he was
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