Couple who murdered dancer they met on Grindr with ‘Devil’s Breath’ drug thought poisoning gay men was ‘easy money’

Patrick Kelleher
·5-min read

Adrian Murphy was murdered by Joel Osei and Diana Cristea as they poisoned him with Devil’s Breath, a court heard as they found the couple guilty.

Murphy, 43, was found dead at his home in Battersea, London in June 2019. He had been poisoned with a substance known as Devil’s Breath, an alternative name for the drug scopolamine which comes from the deadly nightshade plant family.

Joel Osei, 25, and his ex-girlfriend Diana Cristea, 18, were found guilty of murder by a jury at Croydon Crown Court on Friday (October 23).

The couple were also found guilty on one count of administering a poison or noxious substance so as to endanger life, two counts of theft and eight counts of fraud.

While the trial was ongoing, Osei pleaded guilty to manslaughter and admitted to poisoning Murphy. He also pleaded guilty to two counts of theft and eight counts of fraud. Meanwhile, Cristea had pleaded guilty to two counts of handling stolen goods and one count of fraud.

However, both Osei and Cristea were ultimately found guilty of murder, along with a slew of additional charges.

Adrian Murphy killers set up fake Grindr profile to poison queer men.

During the trial, jurors were told that Osei and Cristea had set up fake Grindr profiles in an effort to drug and rob gay and bisexual men using Devil’s Breath.

Murphy met Osei on the app and invited him to his Battersea residence on June 1, 2019. The next day, after he was dead, Osei and Cristea tried to use his name to buy $80,000 (£62,000) worth of diamonds from a New York jeweller.

His body was discovered by his best friend on June 4 and £2,000 worth of goods, including a wallet, laptop and Louis Vuitton bag, were missing from his apartment.

Traces of Devil’s Breath were discovered in his system during a post-mortem.

A review of CCTV footage from Murphy’s apartment complex showed Osei exiting an elevator and walking towards the property on June 1, 2019.

The same footage showed him leaving the building after midnight on June 2 carrying a designer bag belonging to Murphy.

Investigators discovered that Osei spoke to Cristea through 23 separate calls and messages while still at Murphy’s address. After leaving the apartment, he met Cristea and gave her the items he had stolen from the murdered gay man.

Adrian Murphy murder
Joel Osei and Diana Cristea were found guilty of murdering gay man Adrian Murphy at his residence in June 2019 (Met Police)

Joel Osei and Diana Cristea allegedly drugged another man with Devil’s Breath.

As part of the investigation, detectives were also able to link Osei to a second incident that had taken place at an address in Walthamstow on May 30, 2019.

In that incident, the 40-year-old victim – who has not been named for legal reasons – invited Osei to his flat after meeting on Grindr. The victim was later found in an unresponsive state by neighbours and was found to have high levels of “Devil’s Breath” in his system.

His apartment had been ransacked while he was unconscious, with laptops, mobile phones, a wallet and cash among the stolen items. Phone records later showed that Osei was in contact with Cristea repeatedly while in the victim’s flat.

The stolen items were later recovered from Cristea’s former address, with some having already been sold.

During the trial, the jury heard that Cristea called emergency services on June 19, 2019 and reported that Osei had killed Adrian Murphy by drugging him.

The family of Adrian Murphy said in a statement following the conviction that the world is “full of sameness”, but the same could not be said for Murphy.

Adrian’s legacy is that of a hero and hopefully his tragic death has stopped this happening to any other innocent victim.

“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.”

The family said Adrian “loved his hometown of Kilkenny” and 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.”

Detective chief inspector Robert Pack said Osei concocted a “callous and calculated plan” to make “easy money” by drugging queer men.

“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,” Pack said.

“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.

“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,” he added.

“My thoughts remain entirely with them as they continue to come to terms with the loss of their loved one.”