The Murder of Gemma McCluskie

In March 2012 29-year-old Gemma McCluskie, a British TV actress who played Kerry Skinner in Eastenders, disappeared from her home in East London. Her dismembered body was discovered in the Regent's Canal a few days later. Her brother, Tony McCluskie, was found guilty of her murder after a trial at the Old Bailey.

Disappearance and Death

Gemma went missing from her Shoreditch flat, where she lived with her brother, Tony. She was seen at home with her brother on the afternoon of 1st March 2012, and the investigation into her disappearance found that she had entered a kebab shop around 8pm.


A search party of 100 people was organised by Gemma's cousins on 5th March, which spread out from the east and south of London, attempting to discover information related to her disappearance.

Five days after Gemma went missing a member of the public sailing a barge discovered the headless torso of a woman stuffed into a suitcase in Regent's Canal in Hackney. On 9th march police announced that the body had been formally identified as Gemma McCluskie. After a search of the flat police found drops of blood in the bathroom and kitchen - as well as a missing knife. The following day a 35 year old male, later identified as her brother, Tony, was charged with murder.

Tony McCluskie appeared at the Thames Magistrates Court on Monday 12th March 2012 and a preliminary hearing was set for 26th March at the Old Bailey.

On 10th September, police found a head in the same stretch of the canal. The Metropolitan Police confirmed the head was Gemma's two days later.


Trial and Sentence

The trial began on 14th January 2013 at the Old Bailey. During trial it was said that Tony McCluskie was a heavy cannabis user and that he and Gemma frequently argued. On 1 March he allegedly argued with her about an over-flowing bath. She told him to leave, and he grabbed her by the wrists and punched her, but he claimed he had no further recollection of his actions. 

Gemma's death was caused by several blows to the head with a blunt instrument. Tony then dismembered her body. CCTV footage showed him carrying a heavy suitcase the next day, the suitcase contained Gemma's remains, which he disposed of in Regent's Canal.

He initially admitted manslaughter, but denied murder. He was found guilty of her murder on 30th January 2013 and jailed for life with a minimum sentence of 20 years.


Tony McCluskie was imprisoned at London's Belmarsh Prison. However, he was later transferred to Lowdham Grange Prison in Nottingham following a series of threats against him. In 2016, a Ministry of Justice spokesman confirmed the move, and said that "people could be moved for all kinds of reasons such as being closer to their family, or for security".

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