A man who fatally poisoned a gifted dancer with a date-rape drug known as ‘devil’s breath’ to rob him has been handed a life sentence.
Joel Osei, 26, used a fake dating app profile to entrap 43-year-old Irishman Adrian Murphy, killing him in summer 2019 with an overdose of scopolamine.
Although it has medical uses, the substance from the deadly nightshade family of poisons is 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 US$80,000 (£62,000) worth of diamonds from a jeweller in New York.
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 the drug in Mr Murphy’s body was many times the level consistent with a fatal overdose.
Cristea and Osei, who was previously living in Seven Sisters, north London, were both convicted of murder following a trial at Croydon Crown Court.
Jailing Osei for life with a minimum of 32 years yesterday, 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.’
Commenting on how Osei had researched scopolamine, the judge added: ‘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. ‘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.’ Despite everything she’s been through, 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.
He added: ‘The verdict does not fill us with joy or relief because we will not get our Adrian back. 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.