Hoaxer rang murdered EastEnders actress' family to claim he had raped her and wanted 2m ransomSam Dunne, 19, admitted calling Gemma McCluskie's two brothers
Claimed he had raped 29-year-old and locked her up in a room
The actress's torso was found in Regent's Canal, Hackney, last March
Tony McCluskie was jailed for life after he was found guilty of murdering his sister Gemma and dumping her body in a canal
He claimed he had Gemma and demanded
money for her release – the call gave hope to Gemma's family that she
was still alive as well as diverting police attention away from Tony McCluskie.
Adopting a false East European accent Dunne told the family if they wanted
to see Gemma again they needed to take 2million to Benfleet
International Station. He then followed up again with a call requesting
another 500 Iraq dollars.
In one of the calls, Dunne said to Tony McCluskie that Gemma's family needed to 'sort out their attitude'. Dunne's accent kept changing during the conversation.
When Tony McCluskie asked to speak to her, Dunne said Gemma was in a locked room and had been stripped and sexually assaulted.
The conversations on speaker phone
were heard by several friends of the McCluskie family who had gathered
at Gemma's flat in a desperate bid to find the
Danny McCluskie, her other brother, also received a call with the same demands. More were made but he did not answer his phone.
A statement from Gemma's cousin Leanne Dye, who listened in on the call, was read out in court.
She said: 'After the phone went dead I had to run out of the room to be physically sick. I was very distressed.'
Police said this one of the weapons Tony McCluskie used when he attacked his sister Gemma, who had lost patience living with him
The caller's number had been withheld but police were able to trace it and subsequently Dunne to his mother's house in Greenhithe, Kent.
Murder detectives investigating
Gemma's disappearance arrested Dunne at home and found 100 of cannabis
was stuffed down his underpants.
In police interview he said he had
been with friends who were joking about making calls to numbers they had
seen on a Facebook page featuring an appeal to find a missing girl.
He claimed he did not dial the
numbers but he, among others, shouted demands down the phone. He
admitted he had been smoking cannabis that day.
But witnesses said they heard only one voice on the phone, not several.
Dunne was sentenced to six months in prison after pleading guilty at Medway Magistrates Court.
Investigating officer Acting
Detective Chief Inspector John Nicholson, from the Homicide and Serious
Crime Command, said: 'Dunne acted despicably, temporarily giving hope to
Gemma's many friends and family that she was indeed still alive. It's
hard to imagine how anyone could think it was a good 'joke' to torment a
family going through such an incredibly difficult time in this way.
'Of course Tony McCluskie – who we
now know had already murdered his sister – must have thought his luck
was in as Dunne was providing him with an alibi. Within hours of these
calls, Gemma’s torso was recovered from the Regents canal in east
Cordoned off: A police officer by Regent's Canal in east London where Miss McCluskie's torso was found in a suitcase after being thrown into the water in March last year
'At those early stages of the murder
investigation it was unclear who was responsible, and I had to divert
significant resources to arresting, searching and interviewing Dunne and
his associates, resources that should have been committed to other
vital aspects of the enquiry.'
Last year the Old Bailey heard that Gemma was left in charge of the
family home in Shoreditch, east London, when her mother Pauline was
hospitalised with an MRSA infection after surgery to remove a brain
McCluskie spent most of the time in
his room, smoking up to 15 cannabis joints and drinking up to ten pints
of lager, fortified with shots of tequila, every day.
Gemma was killed after returning from
the opening of the new Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel.
the day friends heard her ringing McCluskie to tell him she was sick of
his cannabis habit and he would have to move out.
When she arrived in the afternoon of
March 1 last year, she discovered he had left the bathroom taps running
and flooded the bathroom.
'I always loved you': Gemma's former boyfriend has left a tribute to the actress
Disturbed: McCluskie had attacked his sister at least twice before. Pictured, her north London funeral
Neighbours heard her sobbing before McCluskie repeatedly shouted: ‘I’m sorry Gemma, I must have been out of my mind.’
For four days he acted as the
concerned brother, even posing for photographs with an appeal poster.
And in a chilling ruse, McCluskie texted his sister, pretending he did
not know she was dead.
He signed off one message with ‘love ya xxx’.
Police analysed his messages and discovered it was the only time he had ever told his sister he loved her.