Huge development in fake prince saga

THE self-proclaimed Polynesian prince responsible for Queensland's biggest-ever fraud is set to be released from jail within days.

Joel Morehu-Barlow was in 2013 sentenced to 14 years' jail over the outrageous theft of almost $17 million from the Queensland government, but became eligible for parole in December 2016.

Now, after two failed attempts at freedom, it is understood that Morehu-Barlow has been granted parole and is set to be released - and deported back to his native New Zealand within days.

Joel Morehu-Barlow. Picture: supplied.
Joel Morehu-Barlow. Picture: supplied.

After this week celebrating his 45th birthday behind bars, Morehu-Barlow is expected to leave Brisbane's supermax Arthur Gorrie Correctional Centre before the end of the month.

It is understood family members have been told to prepare for his release with officials working to organise travel arrangements to have him leave the country.

With his Australian visa already cancelled, Morehu-Barlow, who at the height of his lavish lifestyle funded by Queensland taxpayers falsely claimed to be a Tahitian prince, will likely return to the quiet Kiwi town of Thames about 100km east of Auckland to live in the modest family home of his mother Andre Barlow.

After two unsuccessful requests for freedom, Morehu-Barlow applied for parole a third time in November.

It is understood the application has now been approved by the state's parole board, paving the way for his release.

His likely new home in Thames, population 7000, is worlds away from the high-flying lifestyle he led before his arrest, a world full of designer suits, riverfront mansions and bizarre artefacts he claimed were royal heirlooms - complete with fake royal crests and seals.

Joel Morehu-Barlow before his arrest
Joel Morehu-Barlow before his arrest

After arriving in Australia in the early 2000s, Morehu-Barlow started working at Queensland Health in 2007, quickly setting in motion an extraordinary web of deception where he siphoned money earmarked for grants in to a fake business linked to his personal bank account.

He was arrested in 2011, with almost $12 million recovered by authorities after seizing his assets.

He still owes the Queensland government an estimated $12 million plus interest.

Morehu-Barlow's mother did not respond to requests for comment while a spokeswoman for Queensland Corrective Services said they would not comment on details of Morehu-Barlow's release.

Jewellery belonging to fake prince Joel Morehu-Barlow's was among the assets seized by authorities.
Jewellery belonging to fake prince Joel Morehu-Barlow's was among the assets seized by authorities.