Woman dubbed 'Portofino Pirate' after she went on a crime spree and stole £130,000 motorboat in Italian Riviera

No one knows where Watson is at the moment but she will face an international warrant for her arrest if she does not attend the court appearance next month

                            Woman dubbed 'Portofino Pirate' after she went on a crime spree and stole £130,000 motorboat in Italian Riviera
(Source:Getty Images)

A British artist and designer, who is also a mother to four children, has been accused of stealing a luxury motorboat worth £130,000 after she left her family in Britain and went on a four-month-long crime spree in the Italian Riviera. Fifty-year-old Larissa Watson is reported to have had a lot of fun living a lavish lifestyle all at the expense of high-end resorts and restaurants. Watson would not pay any of her bills and she would just vanish from the scene.

She was caught after she got on board the luxury motorboat in Portofino and sped off from the harbour where it was docked. The Italian police have given her the nickname "Portofino Pirate".

A worker at the marina had spotted the Canterbury-native driving the boat out of the dock and managed to jump aboard and apprehend her. Watson is the daughter of a criminologist. She used to work as the creative director at an interior design firm in Belfast.

In February this year, she decided to leave her family and her fashion career back in Ireland and went to Italy. Her worried relatives reported her as missing many weeks after she fled the country.

Watson trying to steal the luxury motorboat is only one of the series of crimes that the Italian authorities have charged the former lecturer with. While in Italy for four months, she enjoyed a completely luxurious life of fine dining and culture. She posted her adventures on social media all while her family was worried sick for her back home.

The Times reported that Watson's family had filed a missing person report with the Irish authorities in May. By the time the missing person report was filed, Watson had already been accused of sleeping at one hotel room without paying for it.

Watson's current location is unknown and, if she does not return to court for the fraud charges that she's being slapped with, she could go to jail. 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."

The 50-year-old was born in Canterbury and raised in Belfast. Something happened in her life earlier this year when she suddenly decided to go to Italy. She posted a touching message on Mother's Day in March saying how much she misses her four children.

All this happens while her social media pages are flooded with her enjoying delicious dinners. Watson is said to have been living her luxurious life in Italy conning hotels and restaurants along the Riviera. It has been claimed that she managed to sneak into a room in one hotel and stay for the night for free. On another occasion, she checked herself into the Reggio Calabria in southern Italy and was arrested after she tried to leave without paying.

Captain Clemente said: "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. 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."  

While she was in Italy, she posted many status updates on her profile on Facebook. This includes one in March where she complained about the bad quality margaritas that she was getting in the country. There was another status about how she was thrown out of a party in Bologna.

Just a couple of days before she attempted to steal the boat, she is reported to have ordered a beauty treatment at the Ligurian resort in Santa Margherita. She was arrested and warned for allegedly not paying the bill which came up to 100 euros.

Captain Clemente said: "When she was arrested she had no cards, no money and a photocopy of her passport. 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 then added: "Nothing like this has happened before in Portofino."

When the Italian authorities searched through Watson's Facebook profile, they discovered that she had taken navigation courses and knew how to handle boats. The Italian newspaper La Riviera was the one who had dubbed her as "the Portofino Pirate".   

Her social media pages revealed that in March she had posted an older photo of herself wearing a blue dress and holding a trophy. The caption reads: "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!"

Watson has been charged with fraud after she allegedly refused to pay a 150 euro bill at a beauty salon in Santa Margherita Ligure.

No one knows where she is at the moment but she will face an international warrant for her arrest if she does not attend the court appearance next month. If Watson does, in fact, appear in court for her trial, she could face three years in jail for the charges that have been slapped against her name.