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Irish woman convicted of €2m fraud after faking cancer has prison sentence appeal rejected

Julie McBrien spent the money on lucrative cars, a sprawling mansion and luxury holidays

Julie McBrien

Tanya Fowles & Jamie McDowellSunday World

A woman convicted of a €2m fraud after faking cancer has had her appeal to have her prison sentence reduced quashed.

Julie McBrien, who also goes by the name Hogg, almost brought her former employers, Northern Mouldings Limited, based in Cookstown, to the brink of collapse.

McBrien spent the money on lucrative cars, a sprawling mansion and luxury holidays.

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

Defence lawyers asked for details such as these to be omitted from the record, but it was refused.

McBrien created false bank statements, forging a former employee’s signature having failed to remove their name from the company register.

She also created false invoices and forged a document making herself solely responsible for the company’s invoices.

When McBrien was eventually arrested, she admitted to everything, with the prosecution arguing she had the “ability to manipulate for her own ends”.

She was told at her sentencing that she had been given “preferential treatment” by her employer because she had claimed to have cancer.

McBrien claimed through her six-year case that she would harm herself if her identity was made public.

A psychiatrist who travelled from England to assess McBrien said her fake cancer claim was to “curry emotional support” and described her behaviour as “Martyr Syndrome”.

The psychiatrist accepted only viewing McBrien’s GP notes up to 2016 (the year of arrest), and didn’t request additional records as he didn’t think they would materially change his opinion.

He also felt such material wasn’t of relevant value, having obtained sufficient evidence from McBrien.

Ultimately his opinion was rejected and in November 2021, after a number of failed court appearances, McBrien was jailed for five-and-a-half years.

Almost a year later she mounted an application for leave to appeal the prison sentence and for Legal Aid to fund this, but both were refused.

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