Police say they are probing how a sick image of dead Cardiff City footballer Emiliano Sala lying in a morgue was leaked and posted online.
The 28-year-old’s body was taken to the Holly Tree Lodge mortuary in Bournemouth, Dorset, after it was found in the English Channel on February 6 and ahead of a post-mortem examination.
Police branded the act ‘shameful’ and say they are considering the possibility someone may have broken in and taken a picture before disseminating them online.
It comes just a day after Sala’s father Horatio died of a heart attack aged 58.
The 28-year-old’s body was taken to Holly Tree Lodge mortuary in Bournemouth, Dorset, after it was found in the English Channel on February 6. Police think someone could have broken in
The image was posted on Twitter before it was quickly deleted.
Less than a week after the discovery of his body, an inquest was told the Argentine died as a result of injuries to his upper body and his head.
It also came just a few days after Sebastian Rabellino, a fellow footballer and long-time friend of Emiliano, was killed in a car crash.
Still from handout video issued by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch showing the wreckage of the plane which crashed into the Channel on January 21 killing Emiliano Sala
Yesterday Dorset Police said: ‘We are aware that a picture reported to be of Mr Sala’s body has been shared on social media channels and are disgusted somebody did this.
‘We are investigating this incident and working with a number of agencies to establish how the picture was taken and who is responsible.’
A source told The Mirror: ‘One theory is that someone broke into the mortuary and took these pictures.’
Horacio Sala, father of Argentine soccer player Emiliano Sala, speaks during an interview outside his home in Progreso, Argentina
Striker Emiliano was flying to Cardiff in January following his transfer from French side Nantes when the Piper Malibu plane piloted by David Ibbotson went down into the English Channel. Mr Ibbotson was also killed in the crash.
The Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) found in its preliminary report in February that pilot Mr Ibbotson was not licensed to fly fee-paying passengers and the plane itself was not registered to undertake commercial flights.
Records have since shown that Mr Ibbotson was also not licensed to fly at night.
Mr Sala’s death comes as a fresh blow for Emiliano Sala’s still-grieving brother Dario (left) and sister Romina (centre right), who are pictured with the footballer and their mother, Mercedes
Sala, pictured signing for Cardiff, was returning from a final trip to Nantes when he died
A report released in February found Mr Ibbotson descended sharply four times telling air traffic control he was struggling with visibility.
Exactly 24 seconds before the fatal crash he plunged from 4,000ft to 1,600ft then desperately tried and failed to ‘climb rapidly’ before hitting the water.
The AAIB said it needs to do more work to find the cause of the crash but have already found that the plane failed to fly on a straight path between France and Wales,
The pair were in this Piper Malibu plane when it went down in the English Channel
The moment rescuers brought Emiliano Sala’s body back to land after it was recovered
After Emiliano was confirmed to have died in the crash, his sister Romina posted a picture of him on Instagram, with the poignant message: ‘Your soul in my soul, it will shine forever, illuminating my existence. I love you, Tito.’
The family later released a statement thanking the public for their support at what they described as ‘the most painful time of our lives’.
The statement continued: ‘Seeing the whole world mobilized to support us in our research has been an infinitely precious help. Thanks to you, we are now able to mourn our son, our brother.
An accident report found the plane had lost altitude before the crash, before the pilot tried to take it back up again
‘On this Friday morning, our thoughts go to David Ibbotson and his family, hoping that the authorities will do their best to find him.’
Cardiff and Nantes are currently locked in a bitter dispute over Sala’s £15million fee, with the French side demanding payment and the Premier League team claiming the deal was not completed.
The search for Sala’s plane
January 21, 2019: The single-turbine engine Piper PA-46 Malibu leaves Nantes at 7.15pm for Cardiff and is flying at an altitude of 5,000ft. At 8.50pm the plane disappears from radar in the English Channel.
January 22: The French civil aviation authority confirms Argentinian footballer Emiliano Sala, 28, who had just signed for Cardiff City, was on board the light aircraft. Piloting the plane was David Ibbotson, from Crowle, near Scunthorpe.
January 24: Guernsey’s harbour master Captain David Barker says the chances Sala and Mr Ibbotson have survived is ‘extremely remote’.
The wreckage was found in three parts on the sea bed near the Channel Islands
January 26: It emerges that football agent Willie McKay arranged for the flight to take Sala to Cardiff but he says he had no involvement in selecting the plane or pilot. He also backs calls for the search to continue.
January 27: Relatives and friends of Sala arrive in Guernsey, having enlisted the help of shipwreck hunting expert David Mearns.
January 28: Sala’s family, including his mother Mercedes and sister Romina, take a chartered flight in a plane operated by Guernsey airline Aurigny over the area where the plane disappeared.
January 30: The Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) says two seat cushions found washed up earlier in the week near Surtainville on the Cotentin Peninsula are likely to have come from the plane carrying Sala and his pilot.
February 3: Wreckage of the plane is located in a fresh, privately funded search which was made possible after a fundraising campaign saw more than £260,000 donated.
The aircraft hit a winter storm over the Channel and some experts have suggested that the instruments may have frozen
Feburary 4: A body is visible in seabed video footage of the wreckage of the plane. The AAIB says the footage was filmed using an underwater remotely operated vehicle (ROV) which was surveying the area after the plane was located.
February 6: A body seen in the wreckage of the plane is recovered. The AAIB says the body will be taken to Portland to be passed over to the Dorset coroner for examination. The aircraft is 67 metres underwater 21 miles off the coast of Guernsey. The AAIB says attempts to recover the aircraft wreckage were unsuccessful and, due to continued poor weather forecast, ‘the difficult decision was taken to bring the overall operation to a close’.
February 7: The Geo Ocean III search boat returns to dock in Portland, Dorset, carrying the wreckage of the Piper Malibu aircraft. Investigators wait to confirm if the body inside the wreckage is that of the pilot or the Argentinian footballer.