Greenhithe man Sam Dunne jailed for Gemma McCluskie sex assault and kidnap calls
PUBLISHED: 16:30 11 April 2013 | UPDATED: 16:30 11 April 2013
A Greenhithe man was jailed for six months today after making malicious phone calls to the family of murdered EastEnders actress Gemma McCluskie, pretending to have sexually assaulted and kidnapped her.
On March 6 last year, after seeing missing posters listing numbers for both Gemma’s brothers, Sam Dunne, 19, of Knock Road, made four calls claiming he had Gemma captive and demanded varying amounts of money be taken to Benfleet International Station.
The warehouse worker made the calls after 29-year old Gemma was reported missing and a high profile campaign was launched to find her.
His first call to Tony McCluskie demanded £2million whilst the next, two minutes later, demanded 500 Iraqi Dollars.
The calls took a surreal turn when Tony McCluskie, who was later convicted of murdering and dismembering his sister, asked to speak to her.
Dunne, who was on speaker-phone and audible to several of Gemma’s family members and friends who had gathered to help look for her, said he had stripped, sexually assaulted and locked Gemma in a room.
He initially denied the four counts of sending by means of a public electronic communications network a message that is grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character under the Communications Act, 2003.
But Dunne later changed his plea at Medway Magistrates Court to guilty and was given concurrent sentences of six months imprisonment for each count.
Investigating officer acting Det Ch Insp John Nicholson, said: “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 Regent’s Canal in east London. At those early stages of the murder investigation it was unclear who was responsible and I had to divert significant resources that should have been committed to other vital aspects of the enquiry.”
Dunne withheld his number but police were able to subsequently trace it and arrested him on March 8. At the time of his arrest he had £100 of cannabis stuffed down his underpants. In later police interviews Dunne claimed he had been smoking cannabis on the day of the calls and that he had only been joking around with friends. However witnesses said they heard no other voices on the phonecalls.
Det Ch Insp Nicholson added: “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.”