20 years for actress killer brother

Times Series: Gemma McCluskie's brother has received a life sentence after being found guilty of her murder Gemma McCluskie's brother has received a life sentence after being found guilty of her murder

The brother of former EastEnders actress Gemma McCluskie has been jailed for life for her murder.

Tony McCluskie, 36, showed no emotion as he was told at the Old Bailey that he would serve a minimum term of 20 years.

The judge said McCluskie had done everything he could to discredit his "hugely popular" sister's character during the trial. And he rejected claims by McCluskie that she had pushed him over the edge by being mean to him. McCluskie was found guilty of murder by an 11-1 majority. He had admitted manslaughter.

Miss McCluskie's dismembered body was found floating in the Regent's Canal in east London in March last year. Her head was found in the water six months later.

The 29-year-old found fame in the BBC soap in 2001 when she played Ethel Skinner's niece.

The verdict was greeted with gasps and cries by members of the family sitting at the back of the court.

After the verdict, Tony McCluskie Senior said he would not desert his son. He said: "I know that my son, Tony Junior, is suffering too. I will not desert him even though he has committed this terrible crime and taken Gemma's life. I hope and pray that one day Tony will be released from prison with a better understanding of his actions."

Mr Justice Fulford told McCluskie: "I have no doubt that you killed your sister because she was furious with you for letting a sink overflow in the bathroom. I unhesitatingly reject your account that she had used bad language towards you or that she had belittled you in the past. Gemma McCluskie was a young woman with a huge zest for life. She was a warm-hearted woman who was loved by a great many people."

He said McCluskie had set about "in a cold-blooded way" to conceal what he had done. "Your hope must have been that she would never be found," the judge added.

During the trial, gruesome details emerged which could have come from some of the soap's storylines. Window cleaner McCluskie claimed to have lost his memory after a tirade of abuse from his sister who came at him with a knife. But the prosecution said he killed his sister after she lost patience with him and asked him to leave the flat in Pelter Street, Shoreditch, east London, where they lived. The final straw came when McCluskie left taps running and a sink overflowed. Miss McCluskie was killed by being hit over the head at least twice and her body was hacked into six pieces with a cleaver and a knife.

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