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December, 31

George Michael's sister Melanie dies aged 55 on Christmas Day exactly three years after her brother's death

George Michael's sister Melanie Panayiotou has died at the age of 55 exactly three years since his death on Christmas Day 2016.

The hairdresser was found by her older sister Yioda Panayiotou at her home in Hampstead, north west London on Wednesday December 25.

Melanie and her brother were close, and she was left part of his estate - which included a £97.6million fortune and a Grade II listed mansion in Highgate, North London - after his death.

She has spoken fondly of her brother in the past, and just days ago released a joint statement in which shetold his fans that their kind messages 'lift us when things are tough'.

In a statement, the Metropolitan Police said: 'Police were called by London Ambulance Service at approximately 19:35hrs on Wednesday, 25 December to reports of the sudden death of a woman, aged in her 50s, at an address in Oak Hill Park, NW3.

'The death is not being treated as suspicious by police.

'A report will be compiled for the Coroner into the circumstances.'

Melanie had spoken proudly of her famous brother in November, telling The Big Issue about the release of the George-inspired Christmas movie Last Christmas.

Her brother George was found dead at his home in Goring-on-Thames, Oxfordshire, on Christmas Day 2016, aged 53. A subsequent autopsy later cited an enlarged heart and fatty liver as contributory factors in his death.

A vast portion of his estate - which included a £97.6million fortune and a Grade II listed mansion in Highgate, North London - was left to his siblings, sisters Melanie and Yioda.

The news comes after George Michael's family told his fans earlier this week that their kind messages 'lift us when things are tough'.

Ahead of the third anniversary of the singer-songwriter's death, his relatives also asked that people continue to do 'good deeds in his memory'.

His sisters Melanie and Yioda, his father Jack and longtime manager David Austin shared a statement on Michael's official website saying that the family have 'come to fully appreciate (although we already knew really), quite how much love there is out there in the world, for both Yog and his beautiful music.'

'We know how much his lyrics can offer support when things are tough and help celebrate when times are good and life is going well... and that is just as powerful now as if he were still with us and as many of you say in your messages, it's a gift.

'It seems important that his generosity of spirit and natural empathy have touched you in a way that would have him embarrassed, all your kind words are really good to hear and we know you have always known his true heart.'

They thanked fans for embracing the recent film Last Christmas based on Michael's music, adding that it 'is going to be there to celebrate and remember Yog and his music well into the future... and we thank everyone whose efforts brought his music to you.'

They said they 'will be swerving the bad and enjoying the good as much as we can this coming year', adding that the past year has been 'difficult and busy' for Michael's 'hardworking team'.

'We are, as usual, staying as positive as possible, which is what we and Yog would wish for you all, and we are all hoping for a peaceful 2020. (Wow 2020! - when you grew up with Yog, that used to seem so far away but, here we are folks - It's the future)!!!' they added.

'We'll close by saying, don't forget to say your 'I Love You's' and enjoy your celebrations wherever you are.

'Thank you so much for your kind messages, they lift us when things are tough.'

Referring to Michael's lifelong charitable efforts, they added: 'Keep on doing those good deeds in his memory, 'paying it forward' if you can.

''Take Care' he says from up there in the stars, with mum, Anselmo, and his beloved doggies.

'Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and celebrations to you all - we send our best from here in London!'

Following his death on Christmas Day three years ago, a post-mortem examination found Michael died from heart disease and a build-up of fat in his liver, which can be linked to drug and alcohol abuse.

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