Adrian Murphy died after being contacted through Grindr and poisoned
Joel Osei and Diana Cristea
October 27, 2020
A man and a woman have been found guilty of poisoning and killing a man in Battersea last year.
They had contacted 42-year-old dancer Adrian Murphy through Grindr a social networking app for gay people with the intention of drugging him and stealing from him. 25-year-old Joel Osei had gone to his flat on Lombard Road on 1 June 2019 to give him scopolamine, also known as ‘the Devil’s Breath’.
The previous day Osei had gone to a 40-year-old man’s flat and poisoned him also having arranged to meet him through the app.
Osei’s former girlfriend, 19 year-old Diana Cristea, then took the stolen goods and sold them online.
Mr Murphy was found dead on Tuesday, 4 June 2019 although police believed he died on Saturday, 1 June 2019.
A special post-mortem examination did not reveal any defensive injuries, signs of sexual activity or of restraint. However, toxicology revealed high levels of scopolamine present in his system. The pathologist deemed this as the cause of his death. Scopolamine was also detected in an empty drink can discarded in the flat.
A review of CCTV footage from within the block of flats showed that at 10.22pm on Saturday, 1 June 2019 Osei exited an elevator and walked towards the property where Mr Murphy was staying.
He was then captured leaving the building at 12.05am on Sunday, 2 June 2019 carrying a designer holdall – which later transpired to be full of stolen items.
Having reviewed thousands of pieces of digital evidence, detectives identified that while at the Battersea address, Osei spoke to Cristea through 23 separate calls and messages. After departing, he met Cristea and handed her goods stolen from the flat including laptops, phones, bank cards, designer bag and wallet, and clothes.
On Sunday, 2 June 2019 Cristea’s phone was used to take photographs of the items and post them for sale online. They also used one of Mr Murphy’s cards to spend almost $3,000 USD on computer software.
On the same day, a PayPal account was created in Adrian’s name but registered to Cristea’s former address in Tottenham. An attempt was then made to purchase $80,000 USD worth of goods from a diamond jeweller in New York.
As part of the investigation into Mr Murphy’s death, detectives were able to link Osei to a similar incident at an address in Walthamstow on Thursday, 30 May 2019.
The 40-year-old victim invited Osei to his flat after making contact via a social networking app. He told police that whilst with Osei he became incapacitated and was later found by his neighbours in a conscious, but completely unresponsive state. A sample of his hair taken by police was analysed and revealed the presence of high levels of scopolamine.
On returning home from hospital, the victim found that while he was unconscious his flat had been ransacked and laptops, mobile phones, a wallet and cash had been stolen. Phone records revealed that while inside the address, Osei was once again in contact with Cristea.
A review of CCTV in areas surrounding the address showed Osei walking along a road in near the victim’s address at 3pm on the day of the incident. He was carrying bags which detectives believe contained the stolen goods. He travelled to a shop in Tottenham with Cristea, where they used the victim’s card to purchase a number of items.
Officers later recovered the stolen property from Cristea’s address and found images of the items – a number of which had already been sold - on her phone.
In an unexpected turn of events, part-way through the trial the jury heard that on Wednesday, 19 June 2019 Cristea called 999 to report that Osei killed Adrian Murphy by drugging him and then stole his personal belongings.
They also heard during cross-examination of Osei that he was found to be passing notes to Cristea in the dock. At this point, Osei pleaded guilty to a number of the offences he was accused of committing. Having previously been charged with murder he pleaded guilty to manslaughter and theft and fraud charges.
Osei, previously of Seven Sisters but now of no fixed address, and Cristea were found guilty of murder and other offences relating to the poisonings and the thefts at Croydon Crown Court on Friday, 23 October.
A date for the sentencing of both will be scheduled in due course.
Detective Chief Inspector Robert Pack, the senior investigating officer, said: “This marks the end of a long and complex investigation. In a callous and calculated plan to make what he saw as easy money, Osei engaged with his victims on a social networking app with the intention of stupefying them with a powerful drug and stealing their valuables.
“He selected this method with the belief that victims would be unlikely to contact police due to the intimate and personal nature of the meetings. They targeted the victims in a place where they should feel safe, their own homes, and Osei’s indiscriminate use of a drug he knew to be dangerous led to the tragic death of Adrian Murphy.
“The second victim assisted us significantly with our investigation and was able to identify Osei, who at the time he only knew as Remy. He has shown bravery and great strength and has been central in bringing this pair to justice.
“Although scopolamine is known to be commonly used in other parts of the world to facilitate crimes, we believe this is the first scopolamine related homicide in the UK. We know a range of other drugs and chemicals are used to harm others and often the use of these substances create barriers which deter victims from seeking help. If you have been the victim of a similar offence and have not reported it to police, I would strongly urge you to do so. You will be listened to by specialist officers trained in investigating these cases and provided dedicated support to help you through the process.
“We have worked closely with a whole host of partners in the charity sector and LGBT+ community to help us with our understanding of the complexities of this case and reassure those who may have been affected by these incidents. We want to make sure that anyone who may have suffered the same way knows how to get help and what support is out there.
“I would like to thank Adrian’s family, some of whom have travelled from Ireland for this trial, for their bravery, assistance and support throughout the course of this investigation. My thoughts remain entirely with them as they continue to come to terms with the loss of their loved one.”
The family of Adrian 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.
“He was generous to a fault and after our Dad passed in 2012, he took great care of our Mam. He ensured her every need was catered for and even redecorated her house making it elderly friendly and easier to maintain.
“Adrian loved his hometown of Kilkenny and although he was a regular world traveller, he never missed an opportunity to return to his family and friends.
“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.”