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Killer who poisoned dance teacher with date-rape drug jailed for life

Jess Glass, PA
·4-min read

A man who poisoned a gifted dancer with a date-rape drug known as “devil’s breath” in order to rob him after entrapping him using a fake dating app profile has been handed a life sentence with a minimum term of 32 years.

Joel Osei, 26, killed 43-year-old Irishman Adrian Murphy in summer 2019 with an overdose of scopolamine – a substance from the deadly nightshade family of poisons commonly used in rapes and kidnappings in South America.

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

Osei and his ex-girlfriend and co-defendant Diana Cristea, 19, targeted men on gay dating app Grindr in order to rob them of their valuables and drain their bank accounts.

After killing Mr Murphy, the couple attempted to buy 80,000 US dollars (£62,000) worth of diamonds from a jeweller in New York.

Adrian Murphy
Victim Adrian Murphy (Met Police/PA)

Mr Murphy is thought to have died sometime between meeting Osei on June 1 and his body being discovered by his best friend and former partner on June 4.

His phone had been thrown down the toilet, while a can of Coca-Cola was found to contain traces of scopolamine and Osei’s fingerprints were discovered on a bottle of whisky left at the scene.

Toxicology tests revealed the concentration of scopolamine in Mr Murphy’s body was many times the level consistent with a fatal overdose.

Cristea and Osei, who was previously living at Kerswell Close in Seven Sisters, north London, but is now of no fixed abode, were both convicted of murder following a trial at Croydon Crown Court.

Diana Cristea
Diana Cristea was found guilty of murdering Irish dancer Adrian Murphy (Met Police/PA)

Jailing Osei for life on Friday, Mr Justice William Davis said he had begun the plan of drugging victims to rob them “with enthusiasm”.

He said: “Your expectation was shame and embarrassment on the part of those victims would mean in all likelihood they would not report it.”

The judge said Osei had researched scopolamine, adding: “You gave Mr Murphy, quite deliberately, a significant dose of a drug which you know could cause death. That much was said in clear terms in the first piece of literature you looked at.”

He continued: “You left him either dying or dead. And what did you do then? You set about using his debit and credit cards which you had stolen.”

Appearing in court via videolink, Mr Murphy’s sister Majella said: “He was beautiful inside and out and only wanted to make people happy.

“To his murderers, you have stolen my brother from me, you have ripped half of me away, I personally will never recover from this.

“I would not wish this pain on anyone, not even you two.”

Ms Murphy said she forgave both defendants, adding: “If I don’t, I will be just like you”.

In a statement read out in court, Mr Murphy’s brother Robert said he had a hero’s legacy and was widely popular, with a successful international career as a dancer.

“The verdict does not fill us with joy or relief because we will not get our Adrian back,” the statement said.

It continued: “He is now dancing amongst the stars.”

Cristea and Osei were further convicted of poisoning a second man with the same drug two days earlier.

The victim, who cannot be named due to a reporting restriction, survived the incident but was taken to hospital after being found by a neighbour almost naked, extremely agitated and confused.

Osei was also given a concurrent sentence of five years in prison for administering a poison or noxious substance so as to endanger life against the surviving victim, and no separate penalty for multiple counts of theft and fraud.

The surviving victim met with Osei on May 30, invited him back to his London property, before waking up in hospital.

Items including his wallet, bank cards and two laptops worth about £2,000 had been stolen.

The surviving victim said the attack was a “horrific and humiliating ordeal” with the anxiety around the case derailing his life.

He told the court: “The attack has made me insecure and I am not quite sure how life will ever be the same.”

Cristea, of Langley Park, Mill Hill, Barnet, north London, will be sentenced for murder, two counts of theft and eight counts of fraud at a later date.