Former EastEnders actress Gemma McCluskie was beaten to death by her brother after a row over an overflowing sink, a court has been told.
Tony McCluskie had left taps on at the flat they shared and Miss McCluskie, 29, who played Kerry Skinner, the niece of Ethel Skinner, in the BBC soap in 2001, thought this was the “last straw”. She drove home to ask the cannabis-smoking McCluskie to leave but was never seen alive again, the Old Bailey was told.
Crispin Aylett, QC, prosecuting, said McCluskie killed his sister, cut up her body and dumped it in the Regent’s Canal in east London. He then led police on a “wild goose chase” after reporting her missing in March, last year, jurors heard.
McCluskie, 35, of Pelter Street, Shoreditch, east London, has pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of his sister but denies murder. He claims to have “blanked out” after arguing with her and has no recollection of killing her, the court was told.
Mr Aylett said: “For some time, there had been tension between Miss McCluskie and her brother. To Gemma, this was largely as a result of the defendant’s habitual use of cannabis – and its most toxic form, skunk.
“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.”
Mr Aylett said the next day, McCluskie sent his sister a text pretending she was still alive and ending “Love ya xx”. Her friends had grown anxious about her and had not been able to contact her.
“A number of them began calling or sending texts to the defendant asking if he had heard from her,” Mr Aylett added. To one on Saturday night, he replied: “She didn’t take the car, keys are on the side in the kitchen plus we wouldn’t know if she took any clothes (as) she (has) so many!”
Then he reported her missing to police who from details given to them by McCluskie, categorised her disappearance as low risk. On Sunday, McCluskie told officers that a former boyfriend owed her money and police should speak to him. On Tuesday morning, a woman navigating her barge on the canal in Hackney, noticed a suitcase floating in the water. It hit the side of the vessel and sprung open. He said: “Inside was a female torso, no legs, no arms and no head.”
Miss McCluskie had been identified by a small tattoo of a bow on her body. Over the next fortnight, her arms and legs were recovered separately from the water. But her head, which had been dumped in the canal at the same time, was not found until September.