National

Fake prince released from Qld jail

By AAP Newswire

Queensland's fake prince Joel Morehu-Barlow, who was imprisoned over the theft of $16 million from Queensland Health, has been released from jail.

Morehu-Barlow, now 44, pleaded guilty to five fraud and three drug offences in 2013 after re-directing money meant for charity into his own accounts and was jailed for 14 years with a non-parole period of five.

Queensland Corrective Services confirmed the New Zealander was no longer in their custody.

It's believed he was released on Thursday afternoon, while News Corp reported he could be deported to New Zealand where he is expected to live with his mother.

An Australian Border Force spokesperson told AAP they could not comment on whether Morehu-Barlow was in their custody or was facing deportation.

Born Hohepa Hikairo 'Joel' Morehu-Barlow, he used his position as a middle manager for Queensland Health to siphon off funds between October 2007 and December 2011.

It allowed him to live a lavish lifestyle that included the purchase of an exclusive waterfront apartment in inner Brisbane.

He even had the initials HRH (His Royal Highness) on a black Amex he used at a chic Brisbane nightclub Cloudland where he drank top of the range champagne and tipped waiters $1000, according to former staff members.

His cash-splashing habits were so outlandish that one Fortitude Valley businessman described it to AAP as a Clayton's economic stimulus package for Brisbane's restaurants, pubs and retailers.

His reign as a free-spending ''royal'' was brought undone in December 2011 when he attempted to siphon off $11 million in a single transaction. He'd previously taken about $5 million.

When police searched his residence, they found hundreds of luxury items including a life-size horse lamp, saddle, a Chanel watch and a Louis Vuitton surfboard, which were seized and sold at auction.

Overall about $11.9 million was recovered from the sale of items including the apartment.

During one of his court proceedings, Morehu-Barlow's lawyer told the court that even his client knew his ''simple'' fraud - which just happened to involve an extraordinary amount of money - would be exposed.

''It was a simple fraud which was bound to be discovered,'' defence barrister David Shepherd said.