Deported conman’s quiet start to new life

 

FAKE prince Joel Morehu-Barlow has spent his first days of freedom in hiding at the secluded hillside home of a family friend where he was spotted watering plants and eating his breakfast.

Despite his mother Andre originally saying that he would be living with her in their New Zealand hometown of Thames, The Courier-Mail tracked Barlow to another house, hidden on a hillside on a battle-axe block overlooking the bay.

Joel Morehu-Barlow at the home of a family friend in the New Zealand town of Thames, 120km from Auckland. Picture: Liam Kidston
Joel Morehu-Barlow at the home of a family friend in the New Zealand town of Thames, 120km from Auckland. Picture: Liam Kidston

Far from the Louis Vuitton outfits he once wore, the 44-year-old fraudster was seen watering pot plants in bare feet, baggy grey track pants and a grey T-shirt.

Barlow was deported to New Zealand on Thursday after serving eight years jail for siphoning $16 million from Queensland Health into his own pockets.

The money was supposed to be used for public grants and charities, but instead, Barlow used it to buy a $6 million luxury New Farm apartment, designer clothing and handbags and throw lavish parties for friends.

‘Fake Prince’ Joel Morehu-Barlow had not been spotted since his return to New Zealand. Picture: Liam Kidston
‘Fake Prince’ Joel Morehu-Barlow had not been spotted since his return to New Zealand. Picture: Liam Kidston

He was a VIP customer at Louis Vuitton, where he spent more than $600,000 of stolen money. He dropped $44,000 at Brisbane jetskis, more than $1 million on travel and accommodation, purchased a $95,000 Bang and Olufsen television and drove around in two Mercedes Benz cars.

Barlow explained his wealth by claiming to be a Tahitian prince. He would later tell his mother in letters he had wanted to get away from a poor, dysfunctional upbringing to "become someone … at any cost".

He applied for parole three times before it was granted but he must now abide by the terms of a Returning Offenders Order, put in place by New Zealand authorities.

The Courier-Mail found Barlow at the home of Aroha Hathaway, a close family friend and NZ media identity.

Ms Hathaway has worked in television, radio and film for 28 years but now runs a Maori art gallery on the main street of Thames.

Her bio says she is contracted to current affairs programs and that she is a writer, journalist and announcer.

When approached by The Courier-Mail at her home, Ms Hathaway refused to discuss her house guest, saying "don't come back".

Family friend and New Zealand media identity Aroha Hathaway. Picture: Liam Kidston
Family friend and New Zealand media identity Aroha Hathaway. Picture: Liam Kidston

Barlow has not been seen in town since his release but was spotted at Ms Hathaway's home on Monday morning, watering the plants, drinking from a mug and eating his breakfast from a plastic container.

After spotting a photographer, Barlow, who was on the phone, appeared to alert his mother, who arrived moments later and began filming The Courier-Mail from her car.

The secluded home where Joel Morehu-Barlow has been staying. Picture; Liam Kidston
The secluded home where Joel Morehu-Barlow has been staying. Picture; Liam Kidston

Ms Hathaway's home is hidden at the back of other houses and can only be accessed via a narrow path. But the rear of the home is visible from a public road higher up the hill.

Media crews from Australia spent several days outside Andre's home, where she said via a neighbour she was not allowed to talk because of her son's "parole" conditions.

When approached directly, she said "it's private property - get off my property".

It is understood family travelled the one and a half hours from the seaside gold mining town to Auckland Airport to collect Barlow late Thursday night.

But they learned he would not be released immediately because authorities needed to put in place his Returning Offenders Order.

NZ Corrections confirmed the order had been put in place but would not release the conditions imposed on the fake prince.

He is believed to have arrived in Thames the following day.

Andre had previously said her son would return home to live with her in her modest public housing cottage she shares with her sister and young grandson.

But there had been no sign of the fake prince at the weatherboard cottage where a young boy was seen playing on a trampoline and in a blue plastic pool in the front yard.

Joel Morehu-Barlow’s mother Andre filmed The Courier-Mail from her car. Picture, Liam Kidston
Joel Morehu-Barlow’s mother Andre filmed The Courier-Mail from her car. Picture, Liam Kidston


Baker shares sweet sentiment behind Grandma’s Mars bar slice

Premium Content Baker shares sweet sentiment behind Grandma’s Mars bar slice

A Bundaberg baker has started her own small business and is ready to feed the...

LNP to inject $250 million into regional communities

Premium Content LNP to inject $250 million into regional communities

Federal Member for Hinkler Keith Pitt said this latest round of funding would mean...

NAMED: 68 people expected in Bundy court today

Premium Content NAMED: 68 people expected in Bundy court today

See who is expected to appear in Bundaberg Magistrates Court today.