Joseph Hohepa Morehu-Barlow, or Joel Morehu-Barlow, the fake Tahitian prince who stole over $16 million from Queensland Health, is set for release from jail and deportation back to New Zealand. Morehu-Barlow, originally sentenced to 14 years jail, became eligible for parole in 2016.
After beginning work for Queensland Health in 2007, Morehu-Barlow eventually became a finance officer. During the following years, he carried out a massive fraud to fund his extravagant lifestyle. Morehu-Barlow described himself to work colleagues and friends as Tahitian royalty. He claimed a trust fund financed his ostentatious expenditure.
The ‘prince’ bought a New Farm apartment of $5.4 million and three Mercedes-Benz cars. Renowned for his Louis Vuitton suits, he also spent large sums on artwork and jewellery. He became a well-known figure on the nightclub scene. Some of his past associates now prefer not to remember their past friendship with Morehu-Barlow. Indeed, none of his former friends attended his court hearings.
One person who knew Morehu-Barlow before his arrest told QNews that very few people believed he was actually royalty.
Fake royal a queen but no Prince
“The common joke was that although Joel was certainly a queen, he was no Prince. I don’t think a single person actually fell for the royalty bullshit, but nor did anyone give much thought to where the money came from. That he was so capable a swindler came as an immense surprise.”
The Queensland government managed to recover almost $12 million by auctioning off Morehu-Barlow’s apartment, cars and personal effects.
At his trial, the fake Tahitian prince’s lawyer explained that Morehu-Barlow grew up in extremely disadvantaged circumstances. He said the suicide of the defendant’s younger brother in 2007 seemed to trigger the offending.
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