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Sister of cancer faking fraudster ‘holding’ funds from sale of house contents

Judge orders money from sold house contents to be transferred within a week

Julie McBrien

A year after cancer-faking fraudster Julie McBrien was given a “red-line” warning to repay funds owed to her victims or face an additional seven years in prison, the saga continued at Dungannon Crown Court.

It has also emerged the house contents identified as part of the compensation package have been sold by McBrien’s sister who is “holding” the funds.

In March 2023 McBrien, also known as Hogg, was granted an extension to repay some of the near £2 million she syphoned from her employers, which she used to establish and fund her overtly luxurious lifestyle.

It was made clear this was the “red-line” before the default prison sentence would be imposed.

That however was not adhered to.

It had already taken over a year from sentencing before a Proceeds of Crime Order was finally imposed and while McBrien of Screeby Road, Fivemiletown ran up the extortionate amount, her confiscated property fell significantly 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 there was,“nothing to show for it” but forensic examination discovered vast lifestyle spend.

McBrien was jailed in November 2021 for five-and-a-half-years with Judge Brian Sherrard telling 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.”

In 2022 she was refused leave to appeal.

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

A year after she was jailed the court ruled no further delay would be tolerated and while compensation sought was just shy of £1.9 million, the estimated recoverable assets were £673,000, which Judge Sherrard ordered to be paid by 23 February 2023, setting seven years imprisonment as the default period.

The sprawling mansion and grounds were ordered to be sold along with contents and other property.

Defence lawyers sought an extension which prosecution counsel Simon Reid warned could only be done once as, “That’s the red-line. The order is in default beyond that.”

A final date of 26 May 2023 was granted – except that too would be pushed back again.

More time passed and the court heard an offer on the house had been agreed, albeit at a reduced price after issues were found during inspection.

But while the purchaser was ready to close the deal, problems persisted chiefly around waiting for sale documents– something which Mr Reid noted had been stated on several occasions.

He said: “The court should take grip and order them to be provided. I don’t see any reason why they can’t be.”

At the most recent sitting Judge Sherrard remarked: “The priority is for the court to ensure the maximum confiscation opportunities are met.”

It was in response to this Mr Reid, while noting the position of the house added, “It seems the contents have been sold, but where’s the money? Who is actually holding it because whatever has been raised should be sent to satisfy the order.”

The defence confirmed the cash is held by McBrien’s sister leading Judge Sherrard to order this is transferred within a week.

Adjourning the case until next month he stressed there must be significant developments, “to actively bring this matter to its logical conclusion.”

Following the hearing Damian Heron, Executive Chairman of Northern Mouldings Limited repeated his previous concerns over the continuous delays in the case and while welcoming the direction for McBrien’s sister to transfer the funds from sold property, queried: “Why was this deemed the correct process in the first place?”

He also confirmed: “The company has commenced the initial action for recovery of tainted goods from the beneficiaries including family members and will be pursuing that vigorously.”

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