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Murdered Kilkenny-born dance teacher Adrian Murphy poisoned, court told

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Irish dancer Adrian Murphy

Irish dancer Adrian Murphy

Irish dancer Adrian Murphy

An Irish dancer who was allegedly murdered by a couple who wanted to plunder his bank cards had a potentially incapacitating drug in his system that was "well in excess" of therapeutic levels, a court has heard.

Diana Cristea (18) and Joel Osei (25) are accused of killing Adrian Murphy between May 31 and June 5 last year. His body was found in a 17th-storey flat in Battersea, south-west London.

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 worth of his belongings.

Prosecutor Crispin Aylett QC told the jury at Croydon Crown Court that the drug scopolamine, which is said to be "popular with robbers and rapists" who use it to incapacitate their victims, was used in both incidents.

Toxicology tests estimated that the concentration of scopolamine in Mr Murphy's body was 67 micrograms per litre of blood, and then 28 micrograms.

The court has heard that research into a separate, fatal robbery involving the drug found that a victim only had 4.8 micrograms of scopolamine in their blood.

Forensic toxicology expert Kirsten Turner, in relation to the tests on Mr Murphy, told the jury on Wednesday: "The fact that we have detected scopolamine at these levels suggests to me that it was used within a few hours of death and the test suggests that it was a high dose."

She described it as "well in excess" of the amounts used in therapeutic doses and said "toxicity could lead to fatality".

Mr Aylett previously told the jury that, particularly in Colombia, the drug 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".

He added: "In Colombia, they don't call it scopolamine, in Colombia they call it 'the devil's breath'."

Mr Murphy (43), from Kilkenny, 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.

It is claimed that the defendants used his details to try to buy $80,000 (£62,000) of diamonds from a jeweller in New York, the court has heard.

Osei is alleged to have met the victims in person through the gay dating app Grindr, before lacing their drinks with the drug and stealing their possessions.

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, which they both deny.

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

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 address, denies two counts of theft and eight counts of fraud.

Belfast Telegraph