A killer couple who murdered an Irish dance champion have been convicted of poisoning him with a drug dubbed ‘the devil’s breath’ – in what police believe is its first criminal use in this country.
Joel Osei, 25, and Diana Cristea, 19, were both found guilty of murdering 43-year-old father Adrian Murphy from Battersea.
The family of Mr Murphy said: “The world is full of sameness, but this could not be said of our brother Adrian.
“Adrian brought the love and art of dance to thousands of young people all over the world. He made so many loyal friends who are so sad at his untimely passing as he was an inspirational Irishman, who was a gifted dancer and choreographer.
“He was also very funny and made everyone laugh at his hilarious stories. He had the gift of bringing people together.
“Our family are heartbroken that Adrian is no longer with us. He has left a huge void within our family and the fact we can no longer see or hear from him makes his absence felt all the more.
“Adrian’s legacy is that of a hero and hopefully his tragic death has stopped this happening to any other innocent victim.
“He is now dancing amongst the stars. May he rest in peace.”
Osei was also found guilty of administering a poison or noxious substance to endanger life, two counts of theft and eight counts of fraud. In an unprecedented move, another victim was able to give evidence behind a screen and with his name anonymised.
Osei’s then-girlfriend, Cristea, who he called ‘my Romanian goddess wife,’ was also found guilty of eight counts of fraud and two counts of theft in the same trial. After the couple fell out, she helped police identify the chemical used in the killing.
Mr Murphy invited Osei to his apartment block in June last year after they exchanged details on dating app Grindr.
Using scopolamine – also known as ‘the devil’s breath’ for it’s ability to incapacitate victims – Osei poisoned the Coca-Cola Mr Murphy was drinking. Osei went on to steal more than £2,000 worth of goods from the flat including a Louis Vuitton wallet.
The following day, by which time Mr Murphy had died, the defendants created a PayPal account in his name. Using that account they tried to buy diamonds worth $80,049 from a jeweller in New York.
My Murphy’s bank cards were also used on two occasions to order food from Deliveroo.
Cristea had put some of the stolen items up for sale online. On Shpock she wrote: ‘Brand new Gaspar Louis Vuitton wallet, comes in a gift bag.’
On June 4, Mr Murphy was discovered dead in the flat.
Sally-Anne Russell, from the CPS, said: “Together Joel Osei and Diana Cristea planned these ruthless offences which cost the life of Adrian Murphy, and seriously injured another. Their sole motivation was to steal property and make money from their victims.
“The prosecution was able to link Osei and Cristea to the crimes using a variety of evidence including telephone evidence and CCTV evidence. The crucial evidence was given by the surviving victim who was able to pick out his attacker from an identity parade.
“CCTV footage shown to jurors showed Osei leaving both Mr Murphy’s address and his surviving victim’s address with bags of their property, which he then passed on to Cristea to sell online.
“Cristea played her part by calling 999 and told the operator about the drug killing after a fallout with Osei. This enabled the police to identify the drug that had been used. Police also found a number of the stolen items at her address and text messages between herself and Osei which evidenced their plan to commit these offences.
“We thank the victim for giving evidence. The prosecution applied for him to give his crucial evidence from behind a screen and with his name anonymised. We hope that his courage gives victims of similar crimes the confidence to come forward.
“I hope this prosecution goes some way in providing comfort to the surviving victim and the family and friends of Adrian Murphy. Our thoughts remain with them at this time.”
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