Gemma McCluskie trial: Tony McCluskie argued with sister on day of her disappearance

18:16 21 January 2013

Gemma McCluskie. Picture: Metropolitan Police

Gemma McCluskie. Picture: Metropolitan Police

Gemma McCluskie’s brother has said that he has no memory of killing his sister, dismembering her and dumping the body in Regent’s Canal.

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

CCTV released by the Met Police today shows McCluskie dragging a bag into the boot of a taxi, and then dragging a bag along Regents Canal.

McCluskie, 35, admits killing Gemma but denies murder.

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 in EastEnders in 2001, was officially identified by dental records.

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

McCluskie today told the jury he had taken the day Gemma went missing, March 1 2012, off work because of a hand injury.

He got up early, smoked a cannabis cigarette and went to splash some water on his face because he felt unwell.

He went downstairs to the toilet to avoid waking his sister, but she realised he had left the tap on, causing the sink to overflow, the court heard.

This sparked an argument, prompting his sister to call him later in the day and demand that he move out.

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

McCluskie, wearing a tie and glasses, told the court she started screaming and shouting at hime, and calling him names.

He said: "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 and his on-off partner Terri Arnull, and make sure Ms Arnull's son, who he viewed as his own, was taken into care.

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

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

"Fiery person"

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

The window cleaner, who the court heard had used cannabis since the age of around 14 and regularly smokes skunk, admits manslaughter but not murder.

He said: "I accept what I have done is wrong, I take responsibility for what I have done to my sister, but it was never my intention to cause her any serious harm, let alone cause her death."

The court heard his defence is one of lack of intention, as well as loss of control.

Asked if he intended to kill his sister or cause her any serious harm, McCluskie said: "I would not inflict any serious injury on anybody, let alone members of my family, my sister."

And asked if he remembered dismembering Gemma, he said: "I could not even think about doing something like that."

McCluskie said that despite her bubbly exterior, behind closed doors his sister regularly insulted him, shouted at him and called him names.

McCluskie told the court that in the run-up to his sister's death, he had split from his partner, his mother was undergoing treatment for a brain tumour and he was under great stress at work because some colleagues thought he had reported them for breaching health and safety guidelines.

He described his sister as a "very strong personality, outgoing, a very fiery person", but said loving texts between them presented to the court were very different from the way she often treated him.

"There would be none of those niceties in there," he said.

"Sometimes it could be nice and sometimes it could be totally different.

"There would be nastiness coming out, hostile, threats, shouting and name-calling, I would say about my appearance, the way I looked."

McCluskie said his sister would regularly criticise his appearance, saying he dressed like a tramp and did not wash.

"This had been ongoing for a while. A couple of years," he told the court.

"Sometimes I got angry, sometimes I just couldn't take the abuse anymore.

"Most of the time I just turned away and walked away. I used to go up to my bedroom.

"Sometimes she would say that I didn't care about my mum. That made me feel bad, that made me feel really bad.

"I used to lie there thinking things out in my head, thinking, ‘well maybe I am, maybe I am all these things. If she sees me like that, maybe people see me in that way'."

The trial continues.

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