A mother-of-four accused of stealing a £130,000 motorboat after a four-month crime spree across the Italian Riviera is now living on a £5million superyacht in St Tropez.
Larissa Watson was dubbed the ‘Portofino pirate’ by Italian authorities after she was finally arrested by police aboard the Sangermani as she headed out to open sea.
It is just one of a series of crimes attributed to the company director, who is said to have enjoyed a lavish lifestyle at the expense of high-end resorts and restaurants, failing to pay her bills before disappearing out of sight.
The 50-year-old, a creative director at an interior design firm, suddenly left behind her family life and fashion career in Belfast before heading to Italy in February, with relatives reporting her missing weeks later.
After her arrest she was taken to court and bailed until July, but she ignored terms of her bail and headed to the exclusive coastal town of St Tropez in France.
Larissa Watson from Canterbury, Kent, has been dubbed the Portofino Pirate after allegedly trying to steal the yacht on the Italian Riviera
An Italian newspaper has dubbed Mrs Watson the Portofino Pirate following the incident
During a four-month spell, she has been accused by Italian authorities of enjoying a lavish lifestyle at the expense of luxury resorts and restaurants
She now claims her arrest aboard the Sangermani was a ‘misunderstanding’ as she had permission from the owner, who claimed she had stolen the yacht in a bid to cover up their affair.
She told The Sun: ‘We knew each other. The whole thing should never have gone to court and it should have been dropped. I will be back to clear my name.
‘I’ve lost my luggage and my passport and my bank accounts have been cloned. I’ve now found someone who is letting me stay on their yacht until I get things sorted.
‘It’s not at all how the Italian police describe, I have been the victim of a unfortunate set of circumstances and there is more to this than meets the eye.’
Mrs Watson is now living on a 60ft yacht owned by German businessman Max Kilink, who is currently competing in the Rolex regatta.
She was arrested last month when a marine worker in Portofino saw her driving the boat and leapt aboard from the dock, apprehending her.
Mrs Watson (pictured) has been charged with theft in relation to the incident and is accused of leaving bills unpaid
Relatives reported Mrs Watson missing in May, by which time she had already been accused of sleeping in a hotel room without paying (pictured in March)
Relatives reported her missing in May, by which time she had already been accused of sleeping in a hotel room without paying.
Mrs Watson, who was born in Canterbury and is the daughter of a criminologist,, could face jail time is she fails return to court to face fraud charges.
Captain Simone Clemente, of the Italian military police, said: ‘She was brought back to the quay were police were waiting.
‘Initially she refused to get off but soon surrendered,’ he added.
Born in Canterbury and raised in Belfast, Ms Watson’s life appeared to take a bizarre twist earlier this year when she moved to Italy.
On Mother’s Day in March, she posted a message of Facebook to say that she was missing her four children.
While her social media pages show her indulging in sumptuous dinners, she was allegedly living on the wrong side of the law, conning hotels and restaurants.
Mrs Watson posted this photo of her enjoying a glass of wine, along with the caption ‘good morning life! F*** it’
It was claimed she managed to sneak into a room and stay for free one night and on another occasion booked into a hotel in Reggio Calabria in southern Italy and was arrested for allegedly trying to leave without paying.
‘One night she wandered into a hotel in La Spezia, pretended to be a guest and got a key, then fled the next day after she was found sleeping in a room,’ added Captain Clemente.
‘We googled her and thought she was carrying out some kind of artistic experiment. We then learnt her family had reported her missing in May.
‘After her arrest she told the British embassy she did not want to go home. Now we hope her family and friends will come to Italy.
During her time in Italy, Mrs Watson posted a number of status updates on her Facebook profile, including one in March in which she complained about the quality of margaritas and of being kicked out of a party in Bologna.
The Brit has been dubbed the Portofino pirate after allegedly trying to steal the the yacht on the Riviera
Her social media revealed that she had undertaken navigation courses and knew how to handle boats
During her time in Italy, Mrs Watson posted a number of status updates on her Facebook profile of her enjoying the sights along the Riviera
Two days before the boat incident she is said to have ordered a beauty treatment in the Ligurian resort of Santa Margherita.
She was arrested and cautioned for allegedly not paying the 100-euro bill.
‘When she was arrested she had no cards, no money and a photocopy of her passport,’ said Captain Clemente.
‘She had a change of clothes in a backpack and might have been sleeping rough. That said, she was well turned out, although that’s because she had been to the beauty parlour.’
He added: ‘Nothing like this has happened before in Portofino.’
Police said a search through Mrs Watson’s Facebook and Instagram revealed she had undertaken navigation courses and was familiar with how to handle boats.
Italian newspaper La Rivieria dubbed Mrs Watson ‘the Portofino pirate’.
Her social media accounts reveal that in March she posted what seemed to be an old picture of herself with a trophy and wearing a blue dress.
The caption read: ‘Happy times when I had decent clothes to wear, a great car to drive, a home and a clean, comfortable bed every night – offshore racing – winning in style!’
Monte Carlo was among the destinations Mrs Watson travelled to during her tour this summer
Her social media account claimed that she was forced to leave a party attended by Jamie Oliver
In another post she claimed to have been ejected from a Bologna party attended by Jamie Oliver due to the actions of ‘an officious little girl’.
Mrs Watson was also charged with fraud after allegedly refusing to pay a €150 bill at a beauty salon in the town of Santa Margherita Ligure.
Her current whereabouts are unknown but she faces an international warrant if she fails to attend next month’s scheduled court appearance.
The artist moved to Belfast as a child before attending the University of Ulster’s School of Art and Design. She has exhibited her work in Britain, the United States, Europe and Japan.
Mrs Watson will be summoned to court next month and could be jailed for three years if the case goes to trial.
She could not be reached for comment last night.
Mrs Watson (pictured drinking from a trophy) could face jail time is she fails return to court to face fraud charges