'red line' | 

Cancer-faking fraudster given final warning to repay £2m or face more jail time

Her confiscated property and assets fall well short of what she stripped from her victims

Julie McBrien in Dubai

Tanya FowlesSunday World

A court has granted an extension for a cancer-faking fraudster to repay some of the near £2 million she syphoned from her employers to establish and fund her overtly luxurious lifestyle. However, it was made clear this is the “red line” before the default prison period of seven years will be applicable.

It took over a year from sentencing before a Proceeds of Crime Order was finally imposed and while Julie McBrien (47) also known as Hogg, of Screeby Road, FIvemiletown ran up the extortionate amount, her confiscated property and assets fall well short of what she stripped from her victims.

The major abuse of trust almost brought her employers, Cookstown-based Northern Mouldings Limited to the brink of collapse.

Having manoeuvred herself into fully controlling the company finances she created false bank statements, forged a former employee’s signature, countersigned cheques to herself and generated fraudulent invoices.

In a disturbing twist, McBrien confided in a company director claiming to have cancer, securing time off to continue her opulent lifestyle without interference.

When arrested, she admitted everything, claiming the money was spent on holidays, with “nothing to show for it “ but searches uncovered jewellery, designer clothes and other evidence of extravagance.

Forensic examination discovered lifestyle spend of just over £141,000; general expenditure of £360,000; property development of £667,000; fashion and beauty at £231,000 and £145,000 on jewellery.

McBrien was found to have: “The ability to manipulate for her own ends and all assessments are based on her own assertions.”

Julie McBrien in Dubai

Jailing her five-and-a-half-years Judge Brian Sherrard told her: “You were given preferential treatment after claiming to have cancer. You authored that lie and benefited from it … You had no consideration for anyone affected by you. Your offending was borne out of avarice.”

She was refused leave to appeal last year.

Throughout the six years to reach sentencing at Dungannon Crown Court, McBrien was cloaked in anonymity, having threatened to self-harm if identified, latterly extending this to avoid prison, ultimately without success.

She had claimed the details of her offending becoming known in the community would be too much for her to bear.

When the sentencing exercise completed in November 2021, the Proceeds of Crime Application proved slow and difficult, until the court ruled no further delay would be tolerated having taken on board the defence had claimed McBrien’s mansion was on the market which enquiries swiftly revealed was untrue.

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A financial investigator examined her accounts and property, including her home and grounds, confirmed various property including jewellry had been seized and is currently held in storage.

While compensation sought is just shy of £1.9 million, the estimated recoverable assets were the region of £673,000, which Judge Sherrard ordered to be paid by 23 February 2023, with the default period for failure to so set at seven years imprisonment.

However, defence lawyers have since brought the case back to court seeking an extension of the deadline and while there is provision for this, prosecution counsel Simon Reid advised it can only be done once, “That’s the red line and the order is in default beyond that.”

The defence confirmed consent has been given for the seized items including jewellery to be auctioned, however the house remains an issue as McBrien’s father Walter Hogg has laid claim to an area of land on which it is built.

“That seems to be making progress and once that’s resolved the property will be marketed and sold,” said the defence.

Granting a final date of 26 May for the compensation to be satisfied, Judge Sherrard stressed the default term of imprisonment would become applicable.

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