Emiliano Sala's sister blasts 'wicked and evil' pair who accessed post-mortem footage

20 September 2019, 14:36 | Updated: 20 September 2019, 16:45

The grieving sister of Emiliano Sala has branded a man and a woman who illegally accessed mortuary footage of his body as "wicked and evil".

The Argentine striker's family were left distraught after post-mortem images were leaked on social media, just days after his body was recovered from the English Channel.

A victim impact statement from his sister Romina Sala was read to Swindon Crown Court on Friday, where Sherry Bray and Christopher Ashford are being sentenced for accessing the footage.

Ms Sala, who lives in Argentina, 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 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.

"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."

Sala had just signed for Cardiff City when he was killed after a private plane taking him from France to the UK crashed in the English Channel north of Guernsey on 21 January.

Around two weeks later, the aircraft wreckage was found with the 28-year-old's body still inside and it was then removed from the plane and brought to Portland in Dorset.

The body of pilot David Ibbotson has never been found.

Swindon Crown Court heard how Bray, the director of CCTV firm Camera Security Services Limited in Chippenham, Wiltshire, and her employee Ashford accessed footage of a post-mortem examination being conducted on Mr Sala.

They replayed the clip before Bray took a picture of it on her mobile phone. She then sent it to a family member on Facebook Messenger, leading it to be widely shared on social media.

After discovering police were investigating, 49-year-old Bray deleted the file from her phone and asked Ashford, 62, to do the same.

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

Bray's lawyer expressed his client's apologies and remorse to the court, saying they were supported by her guilty pleas.

The defendant said she had sent the picture to her daughter but did not post it on Twitter.

Ashford's lawyer said his client was "devastated and ashamed of his actions", in particular to hear of the trauma he has caused to others.

Bray, from Corsham in Wiltshire, and Ashford, from Calne in Wiltshire, each admitted three counts of computer misuse at Swindon Crown Court in August.

Bray also admitted to perverting the course of justice by instructing Ashford to "delete your pics", as well as deleting the post-mortem camera from the live feed camera facility and deleting the mortuary image of Sala from her phone.

Following the guilty pleas, Detective Inspector Gemma Vinton said Sala's family have been "significantly impacted" by the case.

Bray and Ashford will be sentenced on Monday at 10am.