British painter arrested after trying to steal £135,000 luxury yacht in Italy

Artist Larissa Watson allegedly left several hotels and restaurants without paying during Italian holiday lasting months

A harbour worker prevented Ms Watson from leaving with the luxury yacht
A harbour worker prevented Ms Watson from leaving with the luxury yacht

A British woman has been arrested after trying to steal a luxury yacht from an Italian coastal resort.

Larissa Watson, 50, allegedly climbed on board the €150,000 (£135,000) vessel in the upmarket port of Portofino on the Italian Riviera and started motoring it out to open water.

A harbour worker became suspicious after spotting the British painter on the yacht and jumped aboard before taking control and steering the boat back to the port.

The Sangermani Daycruiser belonged to a rental company in Portofino and therefore had the keys on board.

Police arrested Ms Watson after the incident and charged her with theft. They also revealed that she has been in Italy since February and reported to the authorities several times for allegedly leaving hotels and restaurants without paying her bill.

Italian newspaper La Rivieria on Wednesday called Mr Watson the "Portofino pirate" and suggested she was leading a "double life".

"In Britain she’s an esteemed artist, in Italy a thief who’s been under scrutiny from the police for some time," they said.

Capt Simone Clemente, of the Carabinieri, told The Daily Telegraph: "Nothing like this has happened before in Portofino, it's very unusual.

"By looking through her Facebook and Instagram accounts we found that she had done navigation courses in the past and knew how to handle a boat."

According to her Facebook account, which shows multiple holiday pictures from around Italy, Ms Watson works at LW Creative Consulting and studied at Belfast University.

Italian authorities have warned that if she doesn't turn up to her court date in July an international arrest warrant for her will be issued.

If convicted for theft, she could face up to three years in prison.

Portofino is known for its picturesque setting and as a favoured getaway for celebrities.

Harry Potter star Matthew Lewis, who played Neville Longbottom in the franchise, married his partner Angela Jones there last month.

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