September 23, 2019 / 2:49 PM / 22 days ago

British workers jailed for taking photos of body of dead soccer player Sala

LONDON (Reuters) - Two workers from a British CCTV firm were jailed on Monday for accessing graphic mortuary footage, later circulated on social media, of the body of the late Argentine soccer player Emiliano Sala, who was killed in a plane crash in January.

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Europa League - Round of 32 First Leg - Krasnodar v Bayer Leverkusen - Krasnodar Stadium, Krasnodar, Russia - February 14, 2019 General view of players from both teams and fans observing a minute's silence in memory of Emiliano Sala before the match REUTERS/Sergei Pivovarov/File Photo

Sala, 28, was flying from his previous club Nantes in western France to Wales to join Cardiff City when the Piper Malibu aircraft disappeared over the English Channel.

After his body was recovered, Sherry Bray, 48, and Christopher Ashford, 62, accessed footage of his body in the mortuary and the images later appeared on social media.

“Sherry Bray and Christopher Ashford caused immense suffering to Mr Sala’s family and friends with their deeply offensive actions,” said Anthony Johns of Britain’s Crime Prosecution Service.

“It is impossible to imagine why anyone would wish to record or view these sorts of images in such a flagrant breach of confidentiality and human decency. It was truly appalling and they both now face time in prison as a consequence.”

Police launched an investigation in February after officers became aware that a graphic image of the post-mortem of Sala was appearing on social media.

They raided the officers of the closed circuit TV firm which held the out-of-hours contract to monitor the mortuary and discovered that the company’s director, Bray and another member of staff, Ashford, had illegally accessed the footage.

Bray had taken photographs of the footage on her mobile phone and then sent the pictures to another person on Facebook Messenger, police said. Evidence showed Bray had also taken pictures of another body in the mortuary.

Bray, who pleaded guilty in August to three counts of computer misuse and perverting the course of justice, was jailed for 14 months at Swindon Crown Court.

Ashford, who admitted three counts of computer misuse, was sentenced to five months in prison.

Reporting by Michael Holden, Editing by William Maclean

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