A champion Irish dancer was murdered by a “ruthless” couple who poisoned him with “Devil’s Breath” after meeting via a dating app, a court has heard.
Diana Cristea and Joel Osei used Adrian Murphy’s name in an attempt to purchase more than $80,000 worth of diamonds from a New York jeweller, jurors at Croydon Crown Court were told on Tuesday.
The pair deny murdering Murphy, who prosecutors say was killed with “Devil’s Breath” – another name for the drug scopolamine – at a Battersea flat some time between 31 May and 5 June 2019.
The court was told scopolamine is considered a favourite tool of robbers and rapists in South America because it knocks out victims.
Cristea and Osei have also been accused of poisoning a second man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, on 30 May 2019 and stealing £2,000 of items from him.
Crispin Aylett QC, prosecuting, said: “The prosecution allege that the two defendants were a pair of ruthless grifters, scammers looking to make easy money at whatever the cost to their victims.”
Cristea has admitted one count of fraud but denies two charges of theft and six of fraud.
Osei, who previously lived at Seven Sisters, north London, denies two counts of theft and eight counts of fraud.
Aylett said 25-year-old Osei met the victims in person after contacting them through the gay dating app Grindr, with 18-year-old Cristea “egging him on”.
Aylett said Osei went to the unnamed victim’s London residence on 30 May who was disappointed when Osei, who called himself “Remy”, did not seem interested in sex, the court heard.
The man returned from the toilet to find Osei had poured him a glass of orange juice and he drank it, but began to feel “breathless” before passing out, jurors were told.
A neighbour found the man and called an ambulance, but he found items including his wallet, bank cards and two laptops, worth about £2,000, had been stolen.
Aylett said Cristea, of Mill Hill, north London, texted and called Osei while he was at the man’s home, and paid for a minicab to pick him up.
Jurors were told that Murphy met a man on Grindr and invited him to the Battersea flat he was staying in on 1 June.
The next day – by which time, Aylett said, Murphy “must have been dead” – the defendants used his name to unsuccessfully attempt to buy the diamonds, the court heard.
Murphy’s body was found on 4 June by his best friend, the property’s owner, and a Louis Vuitton bag, wallet and laptop had been stolen. Combined, they were worth about £2,000.
The court heard police linked a phone number used by “Remy” and Murphy’s visitor to Osei and Cristea.
The surviving victim identified Osei as Remy and he also appeared on camera coming out of a lift that went to the Battersea flat, jurors were told.
A post-mortem of Murphy’s body found traces of scopolamine, which comes from the deadly nightshade family of poisonous plants.
Traces of the drug were found on a Coca-Cola can and glass tumbler during a search of the flat, and were present in a sample of the surviving victim’s hair.
Aylett told jurors: “In South America, and in particularly in Colombia, 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 Colombia they call it ‘the Devil’s Breath’.”
Osei was arrested at a music festival days before the incidents, where he meant to sell caffeine tablets as drugs, the court heard.
Jurors were told that Cristea texted Osei at the time: “And when you get back, we can focus on the ginger thing and ur batty boys loool.”
Aylett said the reference to a “ginger thing” was not obvious but it was “clear” the couple referenced gay men.
The trial continues.