A gay New Zealand man who conned Queensland Health out of more than $20 million has been jailed for 14 years. Hohepa Morehu-Barlow, also known as Joel Barlow, pleaded guilty in the Brisbane District Court today to eight offences including aggravated fraud as an employee, forgery, uttering a forged document and possessing drugs. The charges relate to the 37-year-old defrauding the Queensland health department of millions of dollars when he worked there between 2007 and 2011. The money he took from funds destined for health care charities was used to purchase high-end designer items to maintain his charade of wealth. In sentencing Judge Kerry O’Brien said he could not ignore the huge amount of cash taken from the public purse, nor the need for deterrence, ignoring defence barrister David Shepherd’s assertions that a 10-year sentence was warranted. He agreed with the crown’s submission that the breach of trust was so severe it required a cumulative sentence totalling 14 years. Morehu-Barlow is originally from Thames, in Coromandel. He was well-known on the Auckland gay scene the early 2000s, and a regular at former gay haunts G.A.Y. and Flesh. Those who knew him at the time tell GayNZ.com he would drive Ferraris and shop at Louis Vuitton in Sydney, while posting pictures of himself living a "rich and famous lifestyle" online. He also claimed to be a Tahitian prince. He favoured Louis Vuitton suits, flew friends around the country to social events and held a birthday party at a Brisbane nightclub for 100 guests. Morehu-Barlow made regular appearances in the social pages of Queensland newspapers and featured in a list of the state's top 50 most stylish people.
Credit: GayNZ.com Daily News staff
First published: Tuesday, 19th March 2013 - 4:48pm
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