Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 2 September 2014

McCluskie amnesia is 'feasible'

Gemma McCluskie played Kerry Skinner in EastEnders

Claims by the brother of former EastEnders actress Gemma McCluskie that he has no recollection of killing her or dismembering her body are "feasible", an expert has said.

Professor Michael Kopelman told a jury in the trial of Tony McCluskie that memory gaps could occur in "emotional" violent crimes involving family members.

McCluskie, 35, admits killing his sister but denies murder, saying he has no recollection of what happened after he grabbed her.

Miss McCluskie's torso was found in a suitcase in the Regent's Canal in east London, followed by her limbs in plastic bags. Her head was found six months later.

The 29-year-old, who played Kerry Skinner, the niece of Ethel Skinner, in the BBC soap in 2001, was officially identified by dental records.

Prof Kopelman, an expert in neuropsychiatry at the University of London, assessed McCluskie while he was in custody following his arrest.

Asked by defence barrister Jeremy Dein QC whether it was feasible that the defendant had "genuine amnesia", Prof Kopelman said: "It is feasible that this may be the case. It commonly gets reported where the crime takes place in a state of emotional arousal, unpremeditated and unplanned and the victim is a wife, partner, relative, someone close to the defendant."

He added: "There are things that have reminiscent characteristics of the literature on these cases, but there have been inconsistencies in his account and there was a delay in reporting his amnesia."

During his assessment, McCluskie claimed he could not remember anything after grabbing his sister's wrists on Thursday, March 1 - the day she was killed - until the morning of Saturday, March 3.

Completing his evidence at the Old Bailey today, McCluskie said; "There's not a minute of the day I don't think about my sister...I miss my sister so much."

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