Two members of staff at a CCTV operation firm have pleaded guilty to illegally accessing and photographing mortuary footage which showed the body of footballer Emiliano Sala.
Sherry Bray, 48, of Charles Street, Corsham, pleaded guilty to three counts of computer misuse and perverting the course of justice.
Christopher Ashford, 62, of Page Close, Calne, pleaded guilty to three counts of computer misuse.
The pair appeared at Swindon Crown Court today and are due to be sentenced on 20 September.
Bray is the director of a CCTV company in Chippenham which held the out of hours contract to monitor the cameras at the mortuary in Bournemouth.
In February 2019 Dorset Police became aware of a graphic image circulating on social media which showed the post-mortem of Cardiff City Emiliano Sala, who had died in a plane crash a month earlier.
As part of their enquiries, officers from Wiltshire Police’s Digital Investigations and Intelligence Unit (DIIU) carried out a warrant at the CCTV firm’s offices.
The investigation, which was then led by Wiltshire Police, uncovered that both Bray and Ashford had illegally accessed the CCTV of the post-mortem and that Bray had taken photographs of the footage on her mobile phone.
Bray then sent a picture to another person using Facebook Messenger and subsequently attempted to hide evidence, encouraging Ashford to delete pictures he had taken.
Evidence from 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.
Detective Inspector Gemma Vinton, from DIIU, said: “This is the most high-profile investigation that our recently-formed unit has carried out. I would like to commend the team of specialist investigators for their hard work and dedication.
“This has been a case which has attracted significant global media interest, and has involved detailed forensic searches of a large number of digital devices, as well as regular contact with a range of stakeholders and interested parties – not least the families of our two victims, with Emiliano Sala’s family, who live in Argentina, being kept fully updated at all times.
“It has been the two families who have been at the forefront of our minds throughout the investigation; they have been significantly impacted at what was already a difficult and traumatic time for them. The actions of Bray and Ashford caused additional unnecessary distress and heartache, and I hope the families will now be able to concentrate on grieving for their loved ones.”