Gemma McCluskie played the part of Kerry Skinner in EastEnders in 2001 (Met Police)
Gemma McCluskie played the part of Kerry Skinner in EastEnders in 2001 (Met Police)

The brother of former Eastenders actress Gemma McCluskie has gone on trial at the Old Bailey accused of murdering her and disposing of her mutilated body in a canal.

Tony McCluskie, 35, of Bethnal Green in east London, pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of the actress at a previous hearing, but denies murdering the 29-year-old.

The headless and limbless body of the former soap star was discovered in Regent's Canal in east London in March.

Mr McCluskie claims to have "suffered loss of control" leading up to his sister's death in March last year.

The court heard how Miss McCluskie had become frustrated by her brother's excessive use of skunk, the powerful strain of cannabis.

She told a friend: "He's permanently stoned. He puts a spliff in his mouth first thing in the morning and doesn't know what his doing."

The victim's arms and legs were pulled from the river at later a later date before her head was discovered by a member of the public in September.

Miss McCluskie, who played the part of Kerry Skinner in the popular BBC soap in 2001, was identified because of a distinctive tattoo on her body.

She went missing after attending the £650m opening of the new Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, east London.

Fellow EastEnders co-stars Natalie Cassidy and Brooke Kinsella, who played the parts of Sonia Fowler and Kelly Taylor respectively, both appealed for help to find the 29-year-old on Twitter.

The defendant took part in extensive searches across east London for the actress following her disappearance.