October 23 2014 Latest news:
Thursday, January 24, 2013
The brother of former EastEnders actress Gemma McCluskie, standing trial for her murder, was “perfectly in control” when he killed her and hacked her body to pieces, a court heard today (Thurs).
Window cleaner Tony McCluskie, 35, claims he has no memory of butchering the 29-year-old barmaid at their home in Pelter Street, Bethnal Green, and dumping her body in the Regent's Canal.
But the Old Bailey was told he knew exactly what he was doing - and that the fatal attack may have been worse than the available evidence suggests.
In his closing speech to jurors, prosecutor Crispin Aylett, QC said McCluskie was "feigning" his amnesia.
"Is it because the truth is at least as bad, if not worse, than is apparent from the evidence that is available?' he asked.
"In the process of dismembering the body and dumping it in the canal the defendant set to put the evidence of what he had done beyond the remit of you, the jury."
A pathologist has told the court McCluskie may have killed Gemma with at least two blows from a blunt instrument using 'severe force.'
He claims she may have fallen over in the bathroom during a struggle and hit her head on the sink, but Mr Aylett asked why McCluskie did not call an ambulance.
"If he hit her twice over the back of the head with a blunt instrument there really is no getting away from that what he did next was designed to conceal not only that he had killed Gemma but also how he had done it," he said.
"And so over the next 36 hours we see the defendant set to work at his grisly task.
"He was, you may think, perfectly in control of himself."
Tony sent cheerful text messages to Gemma as he went about cutting her body up with a knife and a meat cleaver pretending that he believed she was still alive, the court heard.
"It was an attempt to cover his tracks," Mr Aylett said.
Tony attacked Gemma when they had a furious row after he allowed a sink to overflow at the family home, the court has heard.
On the night of March 2 last year he was caught on CCTV taking the remains in a suitcase to dump in the Regent's Canal in Hackney in two separate trips.
Over the next few days he posed for a picture for a newspaper with an appeal poster during the search for Gemma.
On March 6 the torso was discovered floating in the Regent's Canal by a barge owner.
Tony McCluskie admits manslaughter but denies murder on the grounds that he lost control when he killed her.
The trial continues.