Two people “driven by morbid curiosity” who accessed CCTV footage of footballer Emiliano Sala’s post-mortem test have been jailed.
CCTV firm manager Sherry Bray, 49, and her employee Christopher Ashford, 62, admitted illegally accessing mortuary footage of the striker’s body.
Sala had been flying from Nantes after just signing for Cardiff City when the plane he was on crashed into the sea.
Judge Peter Crabtree jailed Bray for 14 months and Ashford for five months.
At Swindon Crown Court the judge said the offences were “driven by morbid curiosity” and in Ashford’s case, “forensic science”.
The judge said they had taken place within “a culture” at the company where staff watched post-mortem examinations even though they “had no justification to do so”.
Wiltshire Police started investigating when an image appearing to show Sala’s body appeared on social media.
On 18 February, officers investigated Camera Security Services (CSS) in Chippenham, Wiltshire, and found the post-mortem test in Bournemouth had been viewed live on 7 February and then played back twice on 8 February.
Bray’s phone was seized and two images of the Argentine player’s body were discovered, which the court heard had been taken from the screen of the mortuary CCTV.
However, the judge said there was no suggestion the pair had taken the actual photograph that appeared on social media or posted it.
Speaking at the start of the sentencing hearing at court on Friday, Rob Welling, prosecuting said Bray had “allowed a culture to develop” where she and other staff watched footage of post-mortem examinations.
Bray told police she had the authority to view all videos but said she “didn’t sit here watching autopsies all day as I’m not sick”.
She admitted taking one photo and later admitted the second photo was also taken by her.
The court heard Bray sent a screenshot to her youngest daughter, while Ashford let a friend photograph the screenshot he had taken.
In a police interview, Ashford admitted watching post-mortem examinations, admitting he had a “morbid fascination” with them.
One message sent from Bray to Christopher Ashford read: “Nice one on the table for you to see when you get in”.
Ashford replied that due to press coverage he assumed it was Sala.
Both admitted three counts of computer misuse at a hearing last month.
In a victim impact statement read to the court on Friday, Emiliano Sala’s sister Romina said: “I couldn’t believe there were people so evil and wicked who would do that.”
Bray’s phone also revealed she had taken a picture of another body in the same mortuary – a man called Andrew Latcham who had died in non-suspicious circumstances in Dorset.
Det Insp Gemma Vinton, from Wiltshire Police, said: “While both Bray and Ashford did plead guilty at the first crown court hearing, this case clearly shows that those in a position of responsibility need to ensure they act to the highest moral standards, as well as having a thorough understanding of the law.
“No sentence will undo the additional unnecessary distress and heartache caused to the Sala and Latcham families, who have remained at the forefront of our thoughts throughout the investigation.
“I hope that the families will now be able to focus on grieving for Emiliano and Andrew.”
Anthony Johns, from the Crown Prosecution Service, said Bray and Ashford had caused “immense suffering” to grieving relatives.
He added: “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.”