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Sunday 8 December 2019

CCTV firm workers jailed over Sala morgue footage

Christopher Ashford viewed CCTV footage of Emiliano Sala’s body
Christopher Ashford viewed CCTV footage of Emiliano Sala’s body

A CCTV company director and her employee have been jailed for illegally accessing footage of footballer Emiliano Sala's body in the mortuary.

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 on February 6 and a post-mortem examination took place at Bournemouth Borough Mortuary the following day.

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Sherry Bray (49) the director of Camera Security Services Limited in Chippenham, Wiltshire, and her employee Christopher Ashford (62) accessed footage of the procedure being conducted on Sala.

Bray had sent a message to night worker Ashford before his shift, which said: "There's a nice one on the table for you to watch when you're next in."

Both replayed the clip during separate shifts before Bray took a picture of it on her mobile phone and sent it to her daughter on Facebook Messenger, leading to it being widely shared on social media, Swindon Crown Court heard.

After realising that police were investigating, Bray deleted the file from her phone and asked Ashford to do the same.

Evidence from Bray's phone also revealed that she had taken a picture of another body of a man called Andrew Latchem who had died in non-suspicious circumstances.

Robert Welling, prosecuting, said Bray had a "pivotal role" in setting a culture at her workplace where "both she and members of staff would watch as and when autopsies were on the mortuary CCTV footage".

Forensic pathologist Dr Basil Purdue said he was not aware the security cameras in the mortuary were able to film post-mortem examinations, and said had he known they were recording procedures, he would "not allow that to take place".

A victim impact statement from Romina Sala, the footballer's sister, called Bray and Ashford's actions "wicked and evil", and said she first found out about the leak when pictures of her brother's body began appearing on Instagram.

"I'll never erase those images from my head," she said.

Mr Latcham's son, Richard Latcham, directed his words to Bray in his statement, saying: "Is nothing sacred? Why would you do such a thing?"

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 telling Ashford to "delete your pics", deleting the post-mortem cameras from the live-feed camera and deleting the image of Sala from her phone.

Nicholas Cotter, defending Bray said: "She fully accepts the distress and upset she's caused.

"It was never her intention for these photos to be put in the public sphere."

Thomas Horder, defending Ashford, said the grandfather called his actions the "biggest mistake he has ever made".

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