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Gemma McCluskie: Jury asked if there is evidence brother Tony was “volcano waiting to erupt”

14:27 25 January 2013

Court artist sketch by Elizabeth Cook of Tony McCluskie in the dock at the Old Bailey. Picture: Elizabeth Cook/PA Wire

Court artist sketch by Elizabeth Cook of Tony McCluskie in the dock at the Old Bailey. Picture: Elizabeth Cook/PA Wire

The jury in the trial of Gemma McCluskie’s brother has been asked to consider if there is “any evidence of him being a volcano waiting to erupt”.

Window cleaner Tony McCluskie, 35, claims he has no memory of attacking the 29 year-old barmaid, cutting up her body and dumping it in a canal.

He says the last thing he remembers is Gemma threatening to stab him and his ex-partner during a row at the home the siblings shared in Pelter Street, Bethnal Green.

McCluskie has told the Old Bailey he was depressed about his job, his love life and his mother Pauline’s ill health on top of constant verbal abuse from his sister about his smell and appearance.

In his closing speech to jurors, defence barrister Jeremy Dein QC said they would have to consider “whether there is any evidence of him being a volcano waiting to erupt”.

Mr Dein added: “This occurred at a time when Pauline was seriously ill, when Mr McCluskie was depressed.

“It was a fast moving incident, a row, abuse. It happened at the click of a finger.

“Are you sure that Mr McCluskie intended to bring his sister’s life to an end or alternatively cause her serious bodily harm? And if you are, are you sure it did not result from a loss of self control?”

Mr Dein suggested that McCluskie’s amnesia about the killing was genuine and as a result of the “shock, panic, fear and bereavement”.

He said: “By the end of that day he had brought down the curtain on his sister’s life, out of the blue. The impact of having done that and what followed is unimaginable.”

The barrister said the worst thing McCluskie had ever done previously was punch someone for urinating in his street.

“He was a man suffering from mild depression, a man pre-occupied with his mother’s serious illness, a man who described himself as a cannabis addict, a man of normal tolerance and restraint but whose actions need to be viewed in the backdrop of that mild depression,” Mr Dein said.

The prosecution claim that McCluskie was feigning his amnesia to conceal the true horror of what he did.

Jurors have heard that McCluskie attacked Gemma during a furious row after he allowed a sink to overflow and flood the bathroom on March 1 of last year.

A pathologist has told the court McCluskie may have killed Gemma with at least two blows from a blunt instrument using “severe force”.

The next day he was caught on CCTV taking the remains in a suitcase to dump in the Regent’s Canal in Hackney in two separate trips.

On March 6 the torso was discovered floating in the water near Broadway Market by a barge owner.

Mr Dein concluded: “He must not be convicted of murder because of what he did after the event.

“You cannot be sure Tony McCluskie murdered Gemma.”

McCluskie admits manslaughter but denies murder on the grounds that he lost control when he killed Gemma.

The trial continues.

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