Killer couple guilty of murder with Colombian 'devil's breath' drug
A killer couple who murdered an Irish dance champion and poisoned another man using a drug dubbed ‘the devil’s breath’ have been convicted.
Joel Osei, 25, was found guilty of murdering 43-year-old Adrian Murphy and administering a poison or noxious substance to endanger life following a trial at Croydon Crown Court, which concluded today (Friday, 23 October 2020). Osei also admitted two counts of theft and eight counts of fraud.
His girlfriend Diana Cristea, 19, whom he referred to as ‘my Romanian goddess wife,’ was also found guilty of murder, administering a poison or noxious substance to endanger life, eight counts of fraud and two counts of theft in the same trial.
Osei targeted his first victim using the fake name ‘Remy’ on the dating app Grindr. He went to the victim’s flat in Walthamstow under the guise of casual sex on 30 May last year. But instead, he poisoned his 40-year-old victim’s orange juice using a drug called scopolamine while he was in the bathroom.
Scopolamine has been used in South America, particularly in Colombia, where it is referred to as ‘the devil’s breath’ and used to incapacitate victims, rendering them deeply unconscious for long periods of time.
Cristea kept in touch with Osei, even sending a message saying: ‘Ask for Wifi once u get there.’ Knowing all about his ways, she had previously told him: ‘I love you my little weird satanic wizard.’
While his victim lay unconscious, Osei helped himself to more than £2,000 worth of property including Ray-Ban sunglasses, bank cards, a wallet, an iPad, iPhones, two laptops, a PlayStation and an Amazon Alexa. Cristea later put many of these items up for sale on Shpock.
The victim was discovered by a neighbour that evening and taken to hospital. He survived.
Two days later Osei used Grindr to strike again. But this time with fatal consequences for his second victim - Adrian Murphy.
Having exchanged details with Osei on Grindr, Mr Murphy invited him to the apartment block in Battersea where he had been staying on 1 June last year. Using scopolamine, 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 4 June 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.”
Notes to editors
- Sally-Anne Russell is a Senior Crown Prosecutor within the pan-London homicide unit at CPS London North.
- Joel Osei (DOB: 11.11.1994) is from Seven Sisters in the London borough of Haringey.
- Diana Cristea (DOB: 5.10.2001) is from Mill Hill in the London borough of Barnet.