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Ex-UQ academic found guilty of fraud

AAP logoAAP 24/10/2016 Sarah Motherwell

A former University of Queensland researcher has been found guilty of falsifying Parkinson's disease research to obtain hundreds of thousands of dollars in funding.

A Brisbane District Court jury on Monday found Dr Caroline Barwood, 31, guilty of two charges of fraud and three charges of attempted fraud, but failed to reach a majority verdict on two other charges.

The week-long trial heard Barwood obtained or tried to obtain about $700,000 from different organisations between 2011 and 2013 in relation to a Parkinson's disease study that never took place.

Barwood also copied the papers of another academic that she then passed off as her own to apply for grants, fellowship and travel funding.

The research assistant was at the time in an intimate relationship with UQ professor Bruce Murdoch, who first approached her to help him with his Parkinson's study in 2009.

Barwood admitted during an investigation by the university's integrity unit she had her doubts about the research having "not even met a single patient".

She also never saw patient consent forms, their files or ethical clearance forms.

"I put my trust in him," Barwood told the investigators.

"There is not a lot of evidence ... it really pains me to admit that."

Crown prosecutor Caroline Marco said in her sentencing submissions Barwood's fraudulent conduct not only cost the university money, but meant other applicants missed out on much-needed funding.

Ms Marco said the research also gave false hope to patients and harmed UQ's reputation.

Defence lawyer Gregory McGuire said Barwood had lost her academic career because of a lie Professor Murdoch told.

"She has paid an extraordinarily high price already," he said.

Mr McGuire said the mother of one had always had an "altruistic" attitude and believed she was alleviating the suffering of others.

Judge Terry Martin will hand down his sentence on Tuesday afternoon.

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