‘Fake prince’ sent packing to start new life
QUEENSLAND'S fake prince, Joel Barlow, has returned to the life he stole $16 million to escape - arriving late last night to the simple New Zealand country home he will share with his mother and other family members.
Barlow, 44, was finally released from Wolston Correctional Centre yesterday - more than three years after becoming eligible for parole.
The Kiwi fraudster - who claimed to be a member of the Tahitian royal family - was jailed for 14 years for the "audacious" theft of millions of dollars from Queensland Health over four years. He told his mother in prison letters he wanted to "become someone … at any cost" after a childhood marred by domestic violence and poverty.
Barlow was driven by Australian Border Force officers from Wolston Correctional Centre about 1pm yesterday to Brisbane Airport where he was escorted on to the 5.20pm Qantas flight to Auckland via a separate air bridge.
He had a window seat towards the rear of the plane, where he was penned in by two large ABF officers, and passed the time watching a movie.
Passengers on QF125 were given a choice of chicken tagine salad, steamed fish with jasmine rice or beef ragout with polenta mash and vegetables for dinner. For dessert, staff handed out Weis lemon myrtle frozen yoghurt bars.
Barlow had lost his security detail by the time he arrived at the baggage carousel in Auckland, standing with his fellow passengers to wait for a silver suitcase and a striped bag.
He chatted with two New Zealand police officers before rushing to the carousel to collect one of his bags.
Then he disappeared down a hall where it is believed he filled out paperwork. He was expected to be reunited with his mother and a family friend.
He was due to return last night to the small coastal town of Thames on the North Island after the Australian Government cancelled his visa and deported him.
Barlow, whose real name is Hohepa Hikairo Morehu-Barlow, pleaded guilty to five fraud and three drug offences in 2013 after siphoning off money meant for charity.
He used the money to fund an extravagant party lifestyle, buying a luxury waterfront home in New Farm and filling it with designer furniture and expensive art.
He had two Mercedes Benz cars, bought lavish gifts for friends and colleagues and threw parties with thousands of dollars' worth of liquor.
The fraudster, who had a "troubled" upbringing in a small New Zealand town, became a VIP customer at Brisbane's Louis Vuitton store where staff would close their doors so he could shop in private.
"He told friends, acquaintances and work colleagues that his extravagant lifestyle resulted in him being a member of the Tahitian royal family, which gave him access to a trust fund," court documents state.
"In some documents he gave his title as HRH."
When the fraud was uncovered, authorities seized and catalogued his possessions and sold them at auction - among them a Louis Vuitton surfboard, a $25,000 case of Hennessy XO Cognac, Hermes garden tools and a $95,000 Bang & Olufsen television.
The unsophisticated fraud was made worse by the revelation that Barlow had lied about his university qualifications and had been convicted of fraud in New Zealand.
Barlow appealed his sentence, arguing it was "manifestly excessive" given around $12,000,000 was able to be recovered through asset sales. This amount was reduced by costs, including legal and Public Trustee fees. Barlow's appeal was unsuccessful.
WHERE THE FAKE PRINCE SPENT HIS STOLEN MONEY:
Moray Street Property Purchase $6,165,915.40
Cash Withdrawals $592,946.43
Travel and Accommodation $1,129,396.92
Louis Vuitton purchases $636.740.14
Motor Vehicles $319,272.41
Libertine Parfumerie Costs $212,823.09
Space Furniture $189,893.80
Bang & Olfuson $103,975.00
David Jones $85,013.45
Flowers (The Flower Trap) $74,338.20
Brisbane Jetskis $43,900.00
Restaurants & Food $54,540.71
Watches of Switzerland $30,605.00
Mount Blanc & The Pen Shop $16,707.16
Fusion Cycles $14,574.95
Unvouched Transfers And Withdrawals $646,013.43
Transfers to Barlow ANZ Debit Card $410,290.00
Balance of Expenditure $1,298,395.82
Total Expenditure $12,442,005.58