December 3, 2023

Couple murdered Kilkenny dancer and then used stolen bank cards to go on spending spree: court

A couple murdered a champion Kilkenny dancer and poisoned another victims with a deadly drug before using their bank cards to go on a spending spree, a court heard.

Joel Osei (25) and Diana Cristea (18) are accused of killing Adrian Murphy between May 31 and June 5 last year after his body was found in a flat in Battersea, south-west London.

The pair then allegedly used his details to unsuccessfully buy $80,000 (€68,130) worth of diamonds from a jeweller in New York, Croydon Crown Court heard yesterday.

Mr Murphy (43), a seven-time All-Ireland dance champion from the Maudlin Street area of Kilkenny city, 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.

Cristea and Osei are also accused of poisoning a second man, who cannot be named due to a reporting restriction, on May 30, 2019, before stealing about £2,000 (€2,190) of his belongings.

Prosecutor Crispin Aylett QC told the court the drug scopolamine, which is said to be “popular with robbers and rapists” to incapacitate their victims, was used in both incidents.

Osei is alleged to have met the victims in person via a dating app before lacing their drinks with the drug and robbing them.

His co-accused Cristea was alleged to have been “egging him on” in the background and later sold the stolen items, Mr Aylett said.

The former couple are both charged with a single count of murder and a count of administering a poison or noxious substance so as to endanger life. They both deny the charges.

They are also standing trial on several fraud charges and two counts of theft.

The court heard Mr Murphy was staying at his former partner and best friend’s flat at Lombard Wharf when Osei visited him on June 1.

The defendant was caught on CCTV approaching the building and exiting a lift, turning left towards the flat where Mr Murphy was waiting for him, the court heard.

He was later caught on CCTV exiting the building carrying a Louis Vuitton bag.

The court heard that the next day, the couple attempted to use Mr Murphy’s Barclays credit card to spend almost $3,000 (€2,555) on computer software used by architects.

Cristea used her phone to take a photo of a Louis Vuitton wallet, which she advertised online, along with a Louis Vuitton holdall she was selling for £300 (€330) and five Dolce and Gabbana belts for £200 (€220).

Mr Murphy was discovered by his friend at the apartment four days later on June 4.

His phone was found in the toilet. A can of Coca-Cola which was later recovered by police was found to contain traces of scopolamine.

Osei’s fingerprints were also discovered on a bottle whiskey in the apartment.

A post mortem of Mr Murphy’s body found traces of the drug scopolamine, which comes from a plant in the deadly nightshade family of poisons.

Mr Aylett QC said: “In South America, and in particularly in Columbia, it is said to be popular with both robbers and rapists who use it to incapacitate their victims, rendering them deeply unconscious for long periods of time.

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

Cristea, of Langley Park, Mill Hill, Barnet, north London, has admitted one count of fraud, but denies two counts of theft and six other fraud charges.

Osei, who was previously living at Kerswell Close in Seven Sisters, north London, but is now of no fixed abode, denies two counts of theft and eight counts of fraud.


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