Tony McCluskie has been jailed for life with a minimum term of 20 years after being found guilty of murdering his sister, former EastEnders actress Gemma McCluskie.

He was found guilty of murder by an 11-1 majority. He had previously admitted manslaughter.

There were gasps and cries in the courtroom as the verdict was given but McCluskie stood emotionless in the dock.

Miss McCluskie's mutilated body was found floating in the Regent's Canal in east London.

gemma mccluskie

Gemma McCluskie played Kerry Skinner in EastEnders

Gemma was killed by being hit over the head at least twice and her body was hacked into six pieces using a cleaver and a knife.

The next day, her brother lugged a heavy suitcase to a local cab firm and was last seen taking it towards the canal.

cctv

CCTV issued by the Metropolitan Police showing Tony McCluskie dragging a large bag into the boot of a taxi.

McCluskie then joined friends who launched extensive searches across east London to find her. He also sent his sister a text pretending she was still alive and ending "Love ya xx".

Miss McCluskie's friend, Nicole McLaren, said she hugged McCluskie because she felt sorry for him as they searched for her.

Former EastEnders co-stars Natalie Cassidy and Brooke Kinsella also both appealed on Twitter for help.

gemma mccluskie

McCluskie's headless body was discovered in Regent's Canal on March 6, 2012

McCluskie told police that his sister was seen in a local kebab shop after she went missing, and that she had visited their mother in hospital.

Miss McCluskie's torso was found a week later when the case snapped open, and her limbs were found in black bags a week later.

mccluskie

Tony McCluskie led police on a 'wild goose chase'

But her head was not found for six months when it too was discovered in the water.

Miss McCluskie was identified by a small tattoo of a bow on her body and later by dental records.

Scientists found blood in the bathroom and a blood-stained knife in the kitchen of the flat and arrested McCluskie.

McCluskie, a 36-year-old window cleaner and skunk cannabis smoker, claimed to have lost control after a tirade of abuse from his sister.

tony mccluskie

Police found her severed head in September

He said the last thing he remembered was her coming at him with a knife.

But the prosecution said he killed his 29-year-old sister after she lost patience with him and asked him to leave the flat in Pelter Street, Shoreditch, east London, where they lived.

The final straw came when McCluskie left taps running and a sink overflowed in March last year.

McCluskie told the court: "She came up the stairs, she was shouting 'Are you gonna go, are you gonna go, are you gonna go?'.

"I turned round and she was standing there with a knife in her hand.

"I got very angry, I just couldn't believe what I was hearing.

gemma mcluskie

Tony McCluskie dragging a large bag along the Regents Park canal (where red arrow is pointing).

"All I remember is just grabbing her wrists. After that I have no recollection."

But, said Crispin Aylett QC, prosecuting, said he intended to kill his sister: "For some time, there had been tension between Miss McCluskie and her brother.

"Gemma told a friend 'He's permanently stoned. He puts a spliff in his mouth first thing in the morning and doesn't know what he's doing'."

"On Thursday March 1 last year, McCluskie had got up, gone to the bathroom and forgotten the taps were on in the sink.
"Unsurprisingly, Miss McCluskie was exasperated by this. She had had enough.

"Later, while she was out, her friends heard her arguing on the telephone with her brother about what had happened.

"It is clear that Gemma regarded this incident as the last straw and that she wanted the defendant to move out."

The court heard that McCluskie received a series of hoax telephone calls following his sister's disappearance.

tony mccluskie

Tony McCluskie was emotionless as the verdict was read out

In the first call, the defendant was told that if he wanted to see his sister again he must take £2 million to Benfleet International station.

A second call was made requesting that he also bring 500 US dollars worth of Iraqi currency, before a third hoax call repeated the demand for £2 million.

When the defendant asked to speak to his sister, the caller said Miss McCluskie had been stripped of her clothes and was being kept in a locked room.

"The truth is that the defendant could not have believed his luck," Mr Aylett said.

"The calls can only have added to the state of confusion as to Gemma's whereabouts."

Police later traced the telephone calls to an address in Kent and arrested a man.

Miss McCluskie who played Kerry Skinner, the niece of Ethel Skinner, on screen in 2001, was immediately missed.

She was last seen attending the £650 million opening of the new Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, east London.

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  • Gemma McCluskie death

    Undated handout photo issued by the Metropolitan Police of Gemma McCluskie. Police have recovered a severed head from a canal where the decapitated remains of the former EastEnders actress were found. Scotland Yard said the discovery was made by a member of the public in Regent's Canal in Hackney, east London, yesterday afternoon.

  • Body found in Regent's Canal

    A 35-year-old man has been arrested after a headless torso feared to be EastEnders actress Gemma McCluskie was dragged from Regents Canal in east London.

  • Body found in Regent's Canal

    A 35-year-old man has been arrested after a headless torso feared to be EastEnders actress Gemma McCluskie was dragged from Regents Canal in east London.

  • Body found in Regent's Canal

    A 35-year-old man has been arrested after a headless torso feared to be EastEnders actress Gemma McCluskie was dragged from Regents Canal in east London.

  • Body found in Regent's Canal

    A 35-year-old man has been arrested after a headless torso feared to be EastEnders actress Gemma McCluskie was dragged from Regents Canal in east London.

  • Body found in Regent's Canal

    A 35-year-old man has been arrested after a headless torso feared to be EastEnders actress Gemma McCluskie was dragged from Regents Canal in east London.

  • Body found in Regent's Canal

    A 35-year-old man has been arrested after a headless torso feared to be EastEnders actress Gemma McCluskie was dragged from Regents Canal in east London.

  • Body found in Regent's Canal

    A 35-year-old man has been arrested after a headless torso feared to be EastEnders actress Gemma McCluskie was dragged from Regents Canal in east London.

  • Body found in Regent's Canal

    A 35-year-old man has been arrested after a headless torso feared to be EastEnders actress Gemma McCluskie was dragged from Regents Canal in east London.

  • Body found in Regent's Canal

    A 35-year-old man has been arrested after a headless torso feared to be EastEnders actress Gemma McCluskie was dragged from Regents Canal in east London.

  • Body found in Regent's Canal

    A 35-year-old man has been arrested after a headless torso feared to be EastEnders actress Gemma McCluskie was dragged from Regents Canal in east London.

  • Body found in Regent's Canal

    A 35-year-old man has been arrested after a headless torso feared to be EastEnders actress Gemma McCluskie was dragged from Regents Canal in east London.

  • Body found in Regent's Canal

    A 35-year-old man has been arrested after a headless torso feared to be EastEnders actress Gemma McCluskie was dragged from Regent's Canal in east London.

  • Body found in Regent's Canal

    A 35-year-old man has been arrested after a headless torso feared to be EastEnders actress Gemma McCluskie was dragged from Regent's Canal in east London.

  • Body found in Regent's Canal

    A 35-year-old man has been arrested after a headless torso feared to be EastEnders actress Gemma McCluskie was dragged from Regent's Canal in east London.

  • Body found in Regent's Canal

    A 35-year-old man has been arrested after a headless torso feared to be EastEnders actress Gemma McCluskie was dragged from Regent's Canal in east London.

  • Body found in Regent's Canal

    A 35-year-old man has been arrested after a headless torso feared to be EastEnders actress Gemma McCluskie was dragged from Regent's Canal in east London.

  • Body found in Regent's Canal

    A 35-year-old man has been arrested after a headless torso feared to be EastEnders actress Gemma McCluskie was dragged from Regent's Canal in east London.

  • Body found in Regent's Canal

    A 35-year-old man has been arrested after a headless torso feared to be EastEnders actress Gemma McCluskie was dragged from Regent's Canal in east London.

  • Body found in Regent's Canal

    A 35-year-old man has been arrested after a headless torso feared to be EastEnders actress Gemma McCluskie was dragged from Regent's Canal in east London.

  • Body found in Regent's Canal

    A 35-year-old man has been arrested after a headless torso feared to be EastEnders actress Gemma McCluskie was dragged from Regent's Canal in east London.

  • Body found in Regent's Canal

    A 35-year-old man has been arrested after a headless torso feared to be EastEnders actress Gemma McCluskie was dragged from Regent's Canal in east London.

  • Body found in Regent's Canal

    A 35-year-old man has been arrested after a headless torso feared to be EastEnders actress Gemma McCluskie was dragged from Regent's Canal in east London.

  • Body found in Regent's Canal

    A 35-year-old man has been arrested after a headless torso feared to be EastEnders actress Gemma McCluskie was dragged from Regent's Canal in east London.

  • Body found in Regent's Canal

    A 35-year-old man has been arrested after a headless torso feared to be EastEnders actress Gemma McCluskie was dragged from Regent's Canal in east London.

  • Body found in Regent's Canal

    A 35-year-old man has been arrested after a headless torso feared to be EastEnders actress Gemma McCluskie was dragged from Regent's Canal in east London.

  • Gemma McCluskie death

    BEST QUALITY AVAILABLE: Undated handout CCTV still issued by the Metropolitan Police of former EastEnders actress Gemma McCluskie, attending a hospital opening ceremony on Wednesday February 29. Detectives revealed today that Gemma was murdered and dumped in a canal after attending the high-profile hospital opening ceremony.

  • Gemma McCluskie death

    BEST QUALITY AVAILABLE: Undated handout CCTV still issued by the Metropolitan Police of former EastEnders actress Gemma McCluskie, attending a hospital opening ceremony on Wednesday February 29. Detectives revealed today that Gemma was murdered and dumped in a canal after attending the high-profile hospital opening ceremony.

  • Gemma McCluskie death

    Tony McCluskie has been arrested after the headless torso of EastEnders actress Gemma McCluskie was dragged from Regent's Canal in east London.

  • Gemma McCluskie death

    Tony McCluskie has been arrested after the headless torso of EastEnders actress Gemma McCluskie was dragged from Regent's Canal in east London.

  • Gemma McCluskie death

    Tony McCluskie has been arrested after the headless torso of EastEnders actress Gemma McCluskie was dragged from Regent's Canal in east London.

  • Gemma McCluskie death

    Tony McCluskie has been arrested after the headless torso of EastEnders actress Gemma McCluskie was dragged from Regent's Canal in east London.

  • Body found in Regent's Canal

    A 35-year-old man has been arrested after a headless torso feared to be EastEnders actress Gemma McCluskie was dragged from Regents Canal in east London.

  • Gemma McCluskie death

    RETRANSMITTED WITH PIXALATION AT THE REQUEST OF THE METROPOLITAN POLICE PLEASE ONLY USE PIXALATED VERSION OF THIS IMAGE: Court artist sketch of Tony McCluskie, of Pelter Street, Hackney, at Thames Magistrates' Court in east London, where he is accused of killing his sister Gemma McCluskie, 29, between February 29 and March 6, and whose torso was discovered floating close to Hackney's Broadway Market last week, days after she attended a high-profile hospital opening ceremony in east London.