Gemma McCluskie trial: Brother to claim actress was ‘abusive and offensive’
14:21 21 January 2013
The brother of Gemma McCluskie will give evidence this afternoon in which he will claim the former EastEnders actress pulled a knife on him on the day he killed her.
Tony McCluskie, 35, will describe how his sister’s behaviour had become volatile and abusive towards him, before she brandished the weapon at him on March 1 last year.
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 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.
Opening the defence case, McCluskie’s barrister, Jeremy Dein QC, told the jury this his client had a “long and committed work record”, despite long-standing use of Class B drugs, particularly skunk.
“The defendant will tell you that, from his point of view, as the fateful day, March 1, approached, he was becoming increasingly worn down by problems, losing sleep, losing weight, losing motivation and worried about losing his job and possibly, on that fateful day, even losing his self-control,” the barrister told the court.
“Abusive and offensive”
He said McCluskie was concerned about his “gravely ill” mother at that time, and had also separated from his long-term partner in early 2012, while also having problems at work.
“As the year turned from 2011 to 2012, Pauline (his mother) was taken back into hospital in early 2012 and Mr McCluskie himself felt more and more anxious and oppressed by these circumstances as winter turned to spring and March 1 dawned.”
He said that, although Miss McCluskie seemed charming and delightful, her brother would describe how she was different “behind closed doors”.
“Over a significant period of time behind these closed doors she was frequently abusive and offensive towards him, that she put him down and made him feel humiliated,” Mr Dein said, adding that McCluskie would say “that she used bad language and was critical of him”.
The barrister said the jury would hear how Miss McCluskie once burst into her neighbours’ family home, unhappy at the noise they were making, and threatened to have them stabbed.
Mr Dein said McCluskie would describe the immediate run-up to his sister’s death.
“He will tell you that he woke up feeling unwell, there was a row to do with these taps, he recalls Gemma taking up a knife and issuing threats.”
He said the defendant remembers grabbing his sister’s wrists, but then his mind is “blank”.
He told the court: “The essence of his testimony will be ‘I killed her, but I did not intend to kill her, I did not intend to seriously injure her, I could not have done so’.
“’If I did, I lost my control, the stress, the illness, the pain, the pressure, the abuse, that knife, but not murder’.
McCluskie admits killing 29-year-old Miss McCluskie, but denies murder.
He claims he has no memory of killing and dismembering his sister, and the Old Bailey heard today that he will adopt defences of lack of intent and loss of control. He will give evidence this afternoon.