|   January 30, 2013    3:21 PM ET

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.

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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.

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CCTV released showed 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

  |   January 23, 2013    2:52 PM ET

Claims by the brother of former EastEnders actress Gemma McCluskie that he has no recollection of killing her or dismembering her body are "feasible", an expert said today.

Professor Michael Kopelman told a jury in the trial of Tony McCluskie that memory gaps could occur in "emotional" violent crimes involving family members.

McCluskie, 35, admits killing his sister but denies murder, saying he has no recollection of what happened after he grabbed her.

Miss McCluskie's torso was found in a suitcase in the Regent's Canal in east London, followed by her limbs in plastic bags. Her head was found six months later.

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Gemma McCluskie played Kerry Skinner in EastEnders

The 29-year-old, who played Kerry Skinner, the niece of Ethel Skinner, in the BBC soap in 2001, was officially identified by dental records.

Prof Kopelman, an expert in neuropsychiatry at the University of London, assessed McCluskie while he was in custody at Belmarsh Prison following his arrest.

Asked by defence barrister Jeremy Dein QC whether it was feasible that the defendant had "genuine amnesia", Prof Kopelman said: "It is feasible that this may be the case.

"It commonly gets reported where the crime takes place in a state of emotional arousal, unpremeditated and unplanned and the victim is a wife, partner, relative, someone close to the defendant."

He added: "There are things that have reminiscent characteristics of the literature on these cases, but there have been inconsistencies in his account and there was a delay in reporting his amnesia."

Prof Kopelman said memory gaps in violent offenders usually lasted up to an hour but there had been some cases of up to 36 hours.

During his assessment, McCluskie claimed he could not remember anything after grabbing his sister's wrists on Thursday, March 1 - the day she was killed - until the morning of Saturday, March 3.

The defendant had shown symptoms of "mild moderate depression" on March 1, which had since progressed to "serious depression" during his time in custody, Prof Kopelman said,

McCluskie said he suffered blackouts "infrequently" after drinking heavily and regularly smoking a strong form of cannabis, the court heard.

Completing his evidence at the Old Bailey today, McCluskie said he thinks about his sister every day.

"There's not a minute of the day I don't think about my sister," he said.

"I miss my sister so much."

  |   January 21, 2013    4:24 PM ET

The brother of former EastEnders actress Gemma McCluskie had no recollection of killing her or dismembering her and dumping the body in a canal, a court has been told.

Tony McCluskie said the last thing he remembered was grabbing his sister's wrists as she wielded a knife at him and threatened to stab him on 1 March last year.

The 35-year-old admits killing Gemma but denies murder, saying he has no recollection of what happened after he grabbed her.

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Gemma McCluskie played Kerry Skinner in EastEnders

Gemma's torso was found in a suitcase in the Regent's Canal in east London, followed by her limbs in plastic bags. Her head was found six months later.

The 29-year-old, who played Kerry Skinner, the niece of Ethel Skinner, in the BBC soap in 2001, was officially identified by dental records.

At her brother's murder trial at the Old Bailey, the prosecution has said pot-smoking Mr McCluskie bludgeoned his sister to death in the flat they shared after a row about an overflowing sink.

Tony, 35, told the jury on Monday he had left a tap on early in the morning of 1 March 2012, sparking an argument and prompting his sister to call him later in the day and demand that he moved out.

When they were both later back in the house in Pelter Street, Shoreditch, east London, the argument continued and his sister came at him with a knife, he said.

Tony, wearing a tie and glasses, told the court she had threatened to stab him, his on-off partner Terri Arnull, and to make sure Ms Arnull's son, who he viewed as his own, was taken into care.

"She started screaming and shouting at me, again calling me all the names: prick, wanker, c**t, junkie," he told the court.

"Calling me all the names, you know, saying that I should go and stay round Terri's for a while. She just wanted me out the house.

"I kept on saying to her that I wouldn't be leaving the house.

"She threatened to call the police, I told her to go ahead and that I still wouldn't be leaving.

"I said she was making a big deal about things and if she was to come upstairs she would know that there was no damage done and she was making a big issue out of things."

He said he walked upstairs, and called his sister to come and look at the bathroom.

"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."

He said she told him if he did not get out she would stab him, Ms Arnull, and have Ms Arnull's son taken into care.

"I got very angry, I just couldn't believe what I was hearing," Tony told the court.

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

He told the court the next thing he remembered was waking up the Saturday after his sister's death on the Thursday.

Mr McCluskie said he had no recollection of killing her, dismembering her, or clearing up afterwards.

  |   January 17, 2013    1:22 PM ET

The father of former EastEnders actress Gemma McCluskie walked out of court on Thursday as details were given about how her body was hacked into six pieces by her brother.

Gemma's father, Tony McCluskie senior, sat through most of the evidence but decided to leave as further details were given about how her bones had 95 marks where they had been cut or hacked.

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Gemma's father Tony McCluskie senior

Professor Sue Black, an expert on dismemberment from the University of Dundee, said it would have taken an experienced person an hour but anyone else could have taken up to three hours or more.

She said the killer had used a knife but switched to a meat cleaver when he was not successful.

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Artist's sketch: the defendant Tony McCluskie

Son Tony McCluskie, 35, admits killing the 29-year-old in March last year but claims he has no memory of it.

Miss McCluskie's torso was found in a suitcase in the Regent's Canal in east London, while her limbs were discovered in plastic bags.

Her head was found six months later and she was officially identified by dental records.

The prosecution said pot-smoking McCluskie bludgeoned his sister to death in the flat they shared after a row about an overflowing sink.

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Gemma McCluskie played Kerry Skinner in EastEnders

Miss McCluskie played Kerry Skinner, the niece of Ethel Skinner, in the BBC soap in 2001.

Pathologist Dr Simon Poole told the court Miss McCluskie died from being hit over the head with an object such as a bat. She also had a number of bruises on her body from before she died.

Some looked like finger marks from someone grabbing her.

McCluskie, of Pelter Street, Shoreditch, east London, denies murder at the Old Bailey.

The trial was adjourned to tomorrow.

  |   January 16, 2013    2:34 PM ET

A friend of former EastEnders actress Gemma McCluskie told a jury today how she comforted Ms McCluskie's brother, unaware he had dismembered her body days earlier.

Nicole McLaren said she "felt sorry" for Tony McCluskie as they searched for his sister in the days following her disappearance in March last year, the Old Bailey heard.

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Gemma McCluskie played Kerry Skinner in EastEnders

McCluskie, 35, of Pelter Street, Shoreditch, east London, denies murdering the 29-year-old, cutting up her body and dumping it in the Regent's Canal in east London.

He has pleaded guilty to manslaughter.

Ms McLaren, a neighbour who had known Miss McCluskie since childhood, told the court that she and the defendant visited pubs together where his sister worked in an effort to trace her.

She said: "I was walking ahead in the street and I heard Tony say, 'where's my sister?' I cuddled him, we were holding each other."

Ms McLaren said she "felt sorry" for McCluskie when his brother Danny reacted angrily over his apparent confusion about when he last saw their sister.

"Danny said: 'When the f*** did you last see Gemma?' I rubbed Tony's leg because I felt sorry for him. I thought he was under pressure. He was nervous."

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Artist's sketch: Tony McCluskie

Ms McLaren told the court she noticed bandages on McCluskie's hand shortly after his sister's disappearance.

"He said he'd had a fight with two fellas outside his house about a fortnight earlier," she said.

Ms McLaren told defence barrister Jeremy Dein QC that she had only seen Miss McCluskie react angrily once, when she slapped a man in a bar.

She had also exchanged "heated" messages on Facebook with a woman her boyfriend had been seeing, Ms McLaren said.

A police search of the house McCluskie shared with his sister found that entry to her bedroom was blocked by piles of clothes, leading officers to believe she was hoarding items, the court heard.

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Tony McCluskie led police on a 'wild goose chase'

When Miss McCluskie was reported missing to police, the defendant told officers he was not initially concerned when she failed to return home because he believed she was staying with a friend.

Miss McCluskie played Kerry Skinner, the niece of Ethel Skinner, in the BBC soap in 2001.

Her torso was discovered on March 6th and over the next fortnight, her arms and legs were recovered separately from the water.

Her head, which had been dumped in the canal at the same time, was not found until September.

Police discovered that a man with a heavy suitcase matching McCluskie's description had taken a minicab to the canal the day after his sister disappeared.

Blood was found in the boot of the car and McCluskie's father and brother "no doubt with heavy hearts" said they recognised him from CCTV. The case continues.

Comments have been closed for legal reasons.

Sara C Nelson   |   December 7, 2012   10:56 AM ET

The brother of former EastEnders actress Gemma McCluskie, found dead in a canal, pleaded guilty on Friday to her manslaughter.

Tony McCluskie, 35, claims to have "suffered loss of control" leading to her death on March 1.

Prosecutors are still waiting for a medical report to establish how she died.

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Gemma McCluskie played Kerry Skinner in EastEnders

McCluskie appeared at the Old Bailey by videolink from Belmarsh prison. His father, Tony senior, watched from the back of the court as he was asked to enter his pleas.

McCluskie, wearing a dark suit, pleaded not guilty to murder followed by a guilty plea to manslaughter.

Judge Gerald Gordon said this meant a trial on the issue of murder or manslaughter would go ahead on January 14 before Mr Justice Fulford.

An expert on amnesia is expected to be called by the defence.

Judge Gordon was told that Miss McCluskie's body was found in the Regent's Canal in east London in March.

A trial was due to take place last month but had to be put off because her head was discovered in September.

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

The judge said the trial must not be further delayed. He said: "The family must have closure."

McCluskie lived in Hackney, east London, with his 29-year-old sister.

She went missing after attending the £650 million opening of the new Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, east London.

Her limbless body was seen floating in the water a week later.

Miss McCluskie played Kerry Skinner in the BBC soap in 2001.

The defendant joined friends who launched extensive searches across east London to find her.

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

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Sara C Nelson   |   September 28, 2012   10:16 AM ET

The brother of former EastEnders actress Gemma McCluskie, found dead in a canal, now accepts responsibility for her death, the Old Bailey heard today.

Tony McCluskie, 35, will now face trial on the issue of whether her death was murder or manslaughter, a judge said.

Miss McCluskie, who played Kerry Skinner in the BBC soap in 2001, went missing after attending the £650 million opening of the new Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, east London, in March.

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

Friends launched extensive searches across east London in a bid to find her, and former EastEnders co-stars Natalie Cassidy and Brooke Kinsella both appealed for help on Twitter.

Miss McCluskie's headless and limbless body was discovered floating in the canal in March. Her head was found near her home on September 9.

Miss McCluskie's character arrived in Walford as a friend of Zoe Slater and the great-niece of the late Ethel Skinner. She briefly dated Robbie Jackson.

McCluskie, who lived in Hackney, east London, with his 29-year-old sister, was due to face trial next month. He appeared via videolink and was remanded in custody at the Old Bailey.

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Sara C Nelson   |   September 28, 2012   10:16 AM ET

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Tony McCluskie, the brother of former EastEnders actress Gemma McCluskie, found dead in a canal, now accepts responsibility for killing her, the Old Bailey heard today.

Miss McCluskie, who played Kerry Skinner in the BBC soap in 2001, had been missing for a week after attending the £650 million opening of the new Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, east London.

Friends launched extensive searches across east London in a bid to find her, and former EastEnders co-stars Natalie Cassidy and Brooke Kinsella both appealed for help on Twitter.

Miss McCluskie's character arrived in Walford as a friend of Zoe Slater and the great-niece of the late Ethel Skinner. She briefly dated Robbie Jackson.

  |   September 12, 2012    3:44 PM ET

The head of former EastEnders actress Gemma McCluskie has been found in a canal, Scotland Yard confirmed on Wednesday.

Her headless and limbless body was discovered in Regent's Canal in Hackney, east London in March this year.

Subsequently other body parts were found, but it was only on Sunday that members of the public discovered a bag in the water at Kingsland Basin that contained a head.


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Tony McCluskie, 35, is due to stand trial accused of the murder of his sister on November 12


On Wednesday police confirmed that they had identified the 29-year-old using dental records, and her family have been told.

Her brother Tony McCluskie, 35, from east London, is due to face trial for her murder at the Old Bailey in November.

All of her body has now been found and a post mortem was carried out on Tuesday but did not give a cause of death. Investigators are waiting for the results of further tests.

The canal is being searched for items of Miss McCluskie's personal property.

Miss McCluskie, who played Kerry Skinner in the BBC soap in 2001, had been missing for a week after attending the £650 million opening of the new Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, east London.

She was last seen returning to the home in Pelter Street, Hackney, that she shared with her brother Tony McCluskie.

Friends launched extensive searches across east London in a bid to find her, and former EastEnders co-stars Natalie Cassidy and Brooke Kinsella both appealed for help on Twitter.

Comments are closed on this story for legal reasons

  |   September 10, 2012    6:04 AM ET

Police have recovered a severed head from a canal where the decapitated remains of a 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.

It comes more than six months after the headless and limbless body of actress Gemma McCluskie, 29, were discovered in the same stretch of water.


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Tony McCluskie, 35, is due to stand trial accused of the murder of his sister on November 12

Miss McCluskie, who played Kerry Skinner in the BBC soap in 2001, had been missing for a week after attending the £650 million opening of the new Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, east London.

She was last seen returning to the home in Pelter Street, Hackney, that she shared with her brother Tony McCluskie.

A police spokesman said: "We can confirm that a head was recovered from Regent's Canal yesterday afternoon. It is still yet to be identified."

The spokesman would not speculate on a connection with the killing of Miss McCluskie, whose remains were found in March.

Friends launched extensive searches across east London in a bid to find her, and former EastEnders co-stars Natalie Cassidy and Brooke Kinsella both appealed for help on Twitter.

Miss McCluskie's character arrived in Walford as a friend of Zoe Slater and the great-niece of the late Ethel Skinner. She briefly dated Robbie Jackson.


McCluskie, 35, is due to stand trial accused of the murder of his sister on November 12.

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  |   June 18, 2012   12:58 PM ET

The brother of a former EastEnders actress will stand trial later this year, accused of her murder.

Tony McCluskie, 35, appeared at the Old Bailey charged with causing the death of actress Gemma McCluskie, 29.

He was remanded in custody to face trial on November 12. A further hearing will take place in October.

Miss McCluskie's headless and limbless body was discovered floating in the Regent's Canal in Hackney, east London, in March.

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An undated handout of Gemma issued by the Metropolitan Police


She had been missing for a week after attending the £650 million opening of the new Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, east London.

Miss McCluskie was last seen returning to the home in Pelter Street, Hackney, that she shared with her brother.

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A poster asking for more information

The actress played Kerry Skinner in the BBC soap in 2001.

Friends launched extensive searches across east London in a bid to find her, and former EastEnders co-stars Natalie Cassidy and Brooke Kinsella both appealed for help on Twitter.

  |   March 20, 2012    5:54 PM ET

An arm believed to belong to EastEnders actress Gemma McCluskie whose headless torso was found floating in a canal has been discovered in the same stretch of water.

The limb was spotted yesterday by a British Waterways employee - two weeks after the 29-year-old's mutilated body was recovered close to Hackney's famous Broadway Market, in east London.

Divers have been searching Regent's Canal in a bid to find her remaining missing body parts.

A Scotland Yard spokesman said: "Police were called at 09:35am yesterday to reports of an arm found in the Regent's Canal in Hackney.

"Officers attended and recovered the limb close to the Broadway Market stretch of the canal.

"We await further tests to determine identity, but at this stage it is believed to be connected to the murder of Gemma McCluskie."

The actress was last seen returning to the home in Pelter Street, Hackney, that she shared with her brother, Tony, who now stands accused of her murder.

She had been missing for a week after attending the opening of the new £650 million Royal London Hospital in nearby Whitechapel.

During this time, friends launched extensive searches across east London in a bid to find her and former EastEnders co-stars Natalie Cassidy and Brooke Kinsella both appealed on Twitter for help.

Tony McCluskie, 35, was remanded in custody when he appeared at the Old Bailey by video-link from Brixton Prison last week.

No bail application was made. A plea and case management hearing was set for June 18.

Miss McCluskie played Kerry Skinner in the BBC soap in 2001.

Police had earlier released CCTV images of Miss McCluskie's final days

  |   March 14, 2012   10:30 AM ET

The brother of a former EastEnders actress was remanded in custody at the Old Bailey on Wednesday accused of her murder.

Gemma McCluskie's headless and limbless body was discovered floating in the Regent's Canal in Hackney, east London, last week.

She had been missing for a week after attending the opening of the new £650m Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, east London.

The 29-year-old was last seen returning to the home in Pelter Street, Hackney, that she shared with her brother, Tony.

No bail application was made when McCluskie, 35, appeared in court by video-link from Brixton Prison.

He was remanded to a plea and case management hearing on June 18 following the brief appearance.

No other members of the family were in court.

McCluskie played Kerry Skinner in the BBC soap in 2001.

Friends launched extensive searches across east London in a bid to find her and former EastEnders co-stars Natalie Cassidy and Brooke Kinsella both appealed on Twitter for help.

  |   March 12, 2012   11:48 AM ET

Tony McCluskie, brother of former EastEnders actress Gemma McCluskie, has appeared in the dock accused of murdering his sister and dumping her torso in a canal.

Gemma McCluskie's headless and limbless body was discovered floating close to London's Broadway Market last week, days after she attended a high-profile hospital opening ceremony in east London.

Her 35-year-old brother Tony spoke only to confirm his name, address and date of birth during a one-and-a-half minute appearance at Thames Magistrates' Court.

Chair of the bench Cliff Lynn told the defendant a bail hearing would take place at the Old Bailey within the next 48 hours.

McCluskie, of Pelter Street, Hackney, nodded his head at the public gallery as he appeared in handcuffs, wearing a long-sleeved grey t-shirt, in the bullet-proof-glass encased dock.


Drawing of Tony McCluskie in court

Mr Lynn told balding McCluskie: "You are remanded in custody. A preliminary hearing has been provisionally set for March 26."

The actress, 29, who played Kerry Skinner in the BBC soap in 2001, went missing following the opening of the £650 million Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, east London.

Friends launched extensive searches across east London in a bid to find her and former EastEnders co-stars Natalie Cassidy and Brooke Kinsella both appealed on Twitter for help.

Miss McCluskie's remains were discovered on Tuesday when a member of the public reported a suspicious object in Regent's Canal.

Miss McCluskie's character arrived in Walford as a friend of Zoe Slater and the great-niece of the late Ethel Skinner. She briefly dated Robbie Jackson.

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