Emiliano Sala sister brands sickos who leaked pics of his body 'wicked and evil'

Posted Saturday, September 21, 2019 by Dailystar.co.uk

Romina Sala revealed the family were left devastated as images emerged online of the Cardiff City player's remains

Emiliano Sala sister brands sickos who leaked pics of his body 'wicked and evil'
Romina Sala branded the ghouls 'wicked and evil' (Image: Getty Images)

Emiliano Sala’s sister slammed a pair of ghouls who leaked pictures of her brother’s dead body on CCTV as “wicked and evil”.

Sherry Bray, 49, and Christopher Ashford, 62, admit illegally accessing CCTV at Bournemouth Borough Mortuary and replaying a post-mortem of the Cardiff City ace.

Sala, 28, tragically disappeared following a plane crash off Alderney in the Channel Islands on January 21, and was confirmed dead on February 7.

Swindon Crown Court heard Bray and Ashford abused their job roles in an "unbelievably cruel" way, viewing and taking photos of the footballer's post-mortem.

The pair were blasted as "evil and wicked" by Sala's sister, Romina Sala, in a statement read to the court.

The court heard the pair worked at CCTV company Camera Security Services Ltd, in Chippenham, Wilts., which held the out-of-hours contract to monitor the mortuary cameras.

Emiliano Sala sister brands sickos who leaked pics of his body 'wicked and evil'
Emiliano Sala died in a plane crash as he flew to join Cardiff City (Image: AFP/Getty Images)

In a statement read to the court, Romina, said: "I could not believe that there were people so evil and wicked that could do that.
"My brother and I have tried to keep our mother off the Internet and off social networks.

"My mother and brother cannot see these photos or talk about this.

"It was very stressful and heartbreaking to see those photos, because I was waiting for the body of my dead brother.

"I will never erase those images from my head. It has been very hard for me to live with."

Emiliano Sala sister brands sickos who leaked pics of his body 'wicked and evil'
Emiliano Sala went missing while flying over the English Channel (Image: Copyright unknown)

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."

But Bray, of Corsham, Wilts., abused her position in order to watch live footage of Sala's post-mortem on the afternoon of February 7 - outside the hours that CSS is contracted to monitor the mortuary cameras.

She also snapped a photograph on her phone of the CCTV screen showing Sala's post-mortem footage as it happened.

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

Bray also admitted the following day, on February 8, she replayed the post-mortem footage.

And she further used the CCTV equipment to play the post-mortem examination of grandfather Andrew Victor Latcham, who died in non-suspicious circumstances on April 24, 2018.

Emiliano Sala sister brands sickos who leaked pics of his body 'wicked and evil'
Christopher Ashford arrives at Swindon Crown Court (Image: Tom Wren / SWNS)

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.

Bray then perverted the course of justice by deleting two images from her phone, deleting the CCTV feed of the autopsy room, and encouraged Ashford to delete photos he had taken.

The pair previously admitted three counts each of computer misuse, as well as one count against Bray of perverting the course of justice at Swindon Crown Court on August 9.

The court heard Bray's interest was piqued on February 7 by a flurry of police activity outside Bournemouth Mortuary, also known as Holly Tree Lodge.

Emiliano Sala sister brands sickos who leaked pics of his body 'wicked and evil'
Sherry Bray is a CCTV company director (Image: Tom Wren / SWNS)

Moments before Sala's post-mortem commenced, camera operative Bray performed a Google search on her phone of the Argentinian footballer, a later search of her phone revealed.

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 the Internet of Sala's autopsy.

The image, taken from an angle above the autopsy 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 there were live feeds of the mortuary on the screens in the monitor room.

But the live feeds from the two cameras that had been inside the autopsy room were no longer showing, said the prosecutor.

Emiliano Sala sister brands sickos who leaked pics of his body 'wicked and evil'
Cardiff City signed Argentine footballer Emiliano Sala (Image: AFP/Getty Images)

Mr Welling also stated Bournemouth Borough Council did not know of the two cameras that had shown the interior of the autopsy room, or that these could be accessed by CSS.

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

"They could also see that the autopsy had been live viewed on February 7, and had been further viewed by way of playback on February 8, at 08.19 and 08.20."

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.

Emiliano Sala sister brands sickos who leaked pics of his body 'wicked and evil'
Tribute to Emiliano Sala ahead of a match between FC Nantes and Nimes (Image: AFP/Getty Images)

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.

Emiliano Sala sister brands sickos who leaked pics of his body 'wicked and evil'
Cardiff City scarves and jerseys, flowers, messages in tribute to Emiliano Sala (Image: AFP/Getty Images)

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 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.

Emiliano Sala sister brands sickos who leaked pics of his body 'wicked and evil'
Handout video footage still image released by the UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch (Image: AFP/Getty Images)

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.

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."

Emiliano Sala sister brands sickos who leaked pics of his body 'wicked and evil'
The pair will be sentenced on Monday (Image: Getty Images)

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.

Mr Horder added that, as a result of losing his job at CSS four weeks ago, grandfather-of-four Ashford is now facing losing his family home, which has a mortgage on it.

Judge Peter Crabtree will sentence the pair on Monday afternoon

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