Couple guilty of murdering dancer with 'devil's breath' poison

A young couple have been found guilty of murdering an Irish dancer they met through Grindr by poisoning him with a drug known as ‘devil’s breath’ among criminals.

Joel Osei, 25, and Diana Cristea, 18, were convicted at Croydon Crown Court today over the death of 43-year-old Adrian Murphy at a flat in Batteresa, London, in June last year.

A court heard how Osei contacted Mr Murphy through the dating app and met him for sex before lacing a cola drink with the drug and stealing his belongings.

Cristea, who was 17 at the time, was accused of ‘egging him on’ in the background and selling the stolen items.

The pair then tried to use Mr Murphy’s credit card to buy £61,000 worth of diamonds from a New York jewellery.

Mr Murphy was discovered lying face down and naked on the bed by his best friend, who owned the flat, on June 4.

Tests initially failed to establish a cause of death, but toxicologists later found his blood had a high concentration of scopolamine, a drug derived from plants in the nightshade family.

It is commonly used in safe doses by doctors to treat motion sickness, nausea and other ailments but was said to be ‘popular with robbers and rapists’ in South America for its effects at higher doses.

The pair have also been convicted of poisoning another man, who cannot be named, who was rushed to hospital and narrowly survived following a similar incident just a few days earlier

Posing as a man named ‘Remy’, Osei lured the 40-year-old victim to his flat in Walthamstow, northeast London before giving him orange juice laced with a lower dose of scopolamine.

Prosecutor Crispin Aylett previously told jurors it is used to render victims ‘deeply unconscious for long periods of time’.

He added: ‘In Colombia, they don’t call it scopolamine, in Colombia they call it “the devil’s breath”.’

Speaking of the incident in which the victim survived, Mr Aylett said: ‘When Remy arrived, the man was disappointed to find that his guest did not seem to be particularly interested in sex.

‘After a while the man went to the lavatory. When he came back, he found Remy had poured him a drink. Thinking it was orange juice from his own fridge the man drank it.

‘The next thing the victim remembers is feeling breathless and, as he told the police: “My head felt like this darkness coming over me” then he passed out.

‘When he came round, he was in hospital.’

Giving evidence, the victim said: ‘Everything started going fuzzy. My legs felt like they had been injected with solid rock or something.’

He said: ‘All I remember is saying something along the lines of what’s happening – then passing out, waking up, and a doctor telling me “you’re lucky to be alive.”

‘I was absolutely out of it, I didn’t know I was saying – I was speaking gibberish.’

After being discharged from hospital he found Osei had helped himself to property worth about £2,000 including a wallet, bank cards two laptops a Playstation.

Mr Murphy had worked as a dance teacher and choreographer at the Royal Academy of Dance in London and was on a year-long sabbatical at the time of his death.

His brother Robert said in a statement: ‘Adrian brought the love and art of dance to thousands of young people all over the world.

‘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, of Kerswell Close, Seven Sisters, and Cristea, of Springfield Road, Tottenham Hale, were convicted of murder, poisoning by administering a substance to endanger life, two counts of theft, and eight counts of fraud by a unanimous jury verdict.

They will appear at the Old Bailey for sentencing on December 14.

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