A party girl stole more than £5,000 from her landlord and blew it on a Caribbean holiday – which she flaunted in a series of Facebook snaps.
Fun-loving Carys Owens, 22, claims she was given the cash as part of an arrangement to marry her victim’s Iraqi cousin.
But a court heard she had no intention of going through with the deal – and spent the money on drinks for her friends and a holiday to Antigua.
When friends confronted her she “laughed off” their concerns – and only returned home when she was deported for stealing a mobile phone.
Owens pleaded guilty to theft on March 13, 2013, at Plymouth Crown Court and received a nine-month prison sentence suspended for 18 months.
Recorder Richard Onslow said: “From the moment you took hold of the money you decided to use it entirely as your own.
“You bought your friends drinks and blew the money within a few days on an expensive holiday in Antigua, which you advertised on Facebook.
“You tried to laugh off the fact that you had that money and you failed to return.”
The court heard how Owens was living in the victim’s house in Torpoint, Devon, with her boyfriend when the offence occurred.
Sally Daulton, prosecuting, said the businessman kept large carrier bags full of money behind a big container of olive oil in the kitchen.
After Owens made a meal at the house one evening her friends noticed she had a large amount of money.
She claimed the cash had been given to her by her boyfriend and bought drinks for all her friends on a night out.
Owens then caught a bus to London and hopped on a plane to Antigua. The victim only realised the money was missing several weeks later, it was said.
One of her friends challenged her on the phone that she had taken the money – but Owens laughed it off.
Police eventually spoke to her when she returned to Britain in September 2013 – but she then evaded justice by returning to Antigua and then moving to Croydon, south London.
In a statement, the victim – who denied giving the money as part of an arranged marriage plot – told the court: “I feel I have worked all year for nothing.”
Michael Green, mitigating, said Owens insists the victim paid her the cash as part of £11,000 to marry his Iraqi cousin.
The deal was to evade immigration controls but she never intended to go through with the scheme, he claimed.
Owens is now working as the manager of a coffee shop in Tooting, south London, and was informally caring for a friend’s 14-year-old son, the court was told.
She was ordered to repay £5,200 to the victim, do 100 hours unpaid work and pay a £100 victim surcharge.