Over a year after a cancer-faking fraudster was jailed for syphoning almost £2million from her employers to set up and fund her overtly luxurious lifestyle, a Proceeds of Crime Order has finally been granted.
However 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.
She manoeuvred herself into fully controlling the company finances then 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 while she was being interviewed, specialist police searching her mansion, 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.
A prosecution report found she has : “The ability to manipulate for her own ends and all assessments are based on her own assertions.”
She was jailed for five-and-a-half-years and was refused leave to appeal last month.
Throughout the six years to reach sentencing which McBrien was cloaked in anonymity, having threatened to self-harm if identified, latterly extending this to avoid prison, ultimately without success.
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.”
When the sentencing exercise completed in November 2021, a Proceeds of Crime Application began which also proved slow and difficult.
After numerous hearings at Dungannon Crown Court without substantive movement, prosecution counsel indicated no further delay would be tolerated.
The court was reminded of the defence claim at sentencing that McBrien’s house was on the market which enquiries swiftly revealed was untrue.
It’s built on land “gifted” to McBrien by her parents whose property is adjacent.
Her father, Walter Hogg has registered an interest on a small area of land on the property he estimates to be worth £10,000.
The mortgage company is also seeking to recoup their funds, however while McBrien’s estranged husband previously indicated an interest, he has since withdrawn.
A financial investigator confirmed he forensically examined McBrien’s accounts and property, including her home and grounds, various property held in storage and her jewellery which is currently lodged with an auctioneer awaiting clearance to sell.
Even at this late stage, McBrien remains uncooperative and in respect of the jewellery the investigator pointed out, “I sought authorisation from her legal people on several occasions and I received no reply.”
Had this been agreed ahead of the hearing, some funds at least could have been repaid to the victims McBrien so brazenly abused.
The investigator informed the court the amount of compensation sought is just shy of £1.9 million.
He estimated the recoverable assets to be in the region of £673,000, but stressed this is an approximation and takes account of the equity in McBrien’s house.
Judge Sherrard ordered her house and assets to be confiscated and while the near £1.9 million accurately reflects the victims’ loss, the recoverable amount of £673,000 is the available compensation figure.
The judge concluded, “Payment is to be made by 23 February 2023 and I set the default period for failure to so at seven years imprisonment.”