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CCTV boss in charge of monitoring body of Emiliano Sala encouraged colleague to watch player's post-mortem

Izzy Lyons
Sherry Bray, a CCTV company director who is to be sentenced for illegally accessing footage of footballer Emiliano Sala's body in the mortuary - PA

The CCTV boss in charge of monitoring the body of footballer Emiliano Sala encouraged her colleague to watch the player’s post-mortem, texting him: "Nice one for you to watch when you're next in.”

Sherry Bray, 49, and Christopher Ashford, 62, admit illegally accessing CCTV at Bournemouth Borough Mortuary through Camera Security Services Ltd in Wiltshire, which held the out-of-hours contract to monitor the mortuary cameras.

Swindon Crown Court heard how Bray and Ashford abused their roles in an "unbelievably cruel" way, viewing and taking photos of the footballer's post-mortem outside the hours that CSS was contracted to monitor the cameras.

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

The pair, who are due to be sentenced on Monday, were blasted as "evil and wicked" by Mr Sala's sister, Romina Sala, in a statement read to the court.

Yellow flowers displayed in front of the portrait of Argentinian forward Emiliano Sala at the Beauvoir stadium in Nantes, where the player had left to join Cardiff City shortly before his death Credit:  LOIC VENANCE/AFP

Rob Welling, prosecuting, said that, as one of three company directors, Bray had a "pivotal role in setting both the tone and culture of what took place on the premises."

The mum-of-two sent a photo to her youngest daughter of Mr Sala’s body using Facebook Messenger and was made aware five days later that the photo had been circulated on social media.

Meanwhile Ashford, of Calne, Wilts., gained "unauthorised access" to the mortuary CCTV, and watched Sala's post-mortem six times over a 48-hour period from February 9 to 11.

Mr Welling also read to the court a text message exchange between Bray and Ashford at on February 7 - whilst the Argentinian footballer's post-mortem 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?".

Christopher Ashford, the employee of a CCTV company director who is to be sentenced for illegally accessing footage of footballer Emiliano Sala's body in the mortuary Credit: Ben Birchall/PA

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."

Mr Welling told the court how Bray and Ashford's actions came to light when, on February 14, a "disgusted" member of the public reported to police that there was an image on social media of Mr Sala's post-mortem.

The image, taken from an angle above the post-mortem table, was of very clear quality, Mr Welling said.

He said: "Police visited the mortuary and examined CCTV systems to look for clues as to where the image on the Internet came from.

"The icons in the margins of the image did not match those of the mortuary CCTV, so police ruled out the mortuary, and there was only one other candidate - CSS."

On February 18, police conducted a search of the CSS offices, where Bray met them and identified herself as the manager.

"Police could see from the icons around the exterior of the CCTV that these were the source of the photo on the Internet," Mr Welling said.

In victim impact statement read out in court, Mr Sala's sister said: "I have seen photos of Emiliano's body leaked on Instagram, and I cannot believe there are people so wicked and evil who could do that.

"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."