THE fake Tahitian prince who defrauded $16.6 million from Queensland Health to fund an extravagant lifestyle has lost his argument that the money he took was a drop in the pond.
Hohepa Hikairo Morehu-Barlow, also known as Joel Barlow, was last year sentenced to 14 years jail for the breach of trust in taking public funds but argued in the Queensland Court of Appeal that his sentence was manifestly excessive.
Among his arguments, Barlow, who was aged 32 to 26 at the time, suggested the sentencing judge erred in giving too much weight to the money lost and insufficient weight to the actual loss suffered.
Judge Hugh Fraser, in a Court of Appeal judgment handed down today, found the argument was flawed.
He said the "extraordinarily large amount" Barlow took and the substantial net loss were important factors in the sentence.
"A further proposition on behalf of (Barlow), that whilst the amount taken was enormous that amount represented only a small part of the Queensland Health Department budget, raised a false issue," Justice Fraser said.
"Nor can it be accepted ... that 'in the scheme of things, the loss to the department in the order of $5 million was never going to have any significant impact on the people of Queensland'.
"The temporary loss of nearly $16.7 million and the permanent loss of about $5 million must necessarily have had a significant impact."
Justice Fraser said there were other important factors included the serious breach of trust in abusing his position as a public servant and his motivation in taking the money to maintain his extravagant lifestyle.
"The applicant's fraudulent use of the ministerial correspondence was especially serious, as was his conduct in relieving a more junior employee of responsibility for a particular cost centre which the applicant then manipulated as part of his fraudulent activities," he said.
Barlow used the money he stole to buy a unit at New Farm in Brisbane off the plan, two Mercedes vehicles and splashed out on Louis Vuitton accessories, Swiss watches and many other retail purchases.
He gave goods, travel and money to his family while offering gifts, entertainment and flowers to colleagues in the health department.
Barlow told everyone he was in the Tahitian royal family which gave him access to a trust fund.