A woman accused of dining and dashing at a number of restaurants in Halifax is speaking out, saying she’s had a difficult year and is living with regret.

Last month, servers in the city took to social media to warn others about a problem customer, sharing photos of a woman they say was known to skip out on her bill.

Marlo Cooley has been charged with 16 counts of fraudulently obtaining food, beverage or accommodation in connection with several alleged dine-and-dash incidents, which saw a number of eateries lose out on thousands of dollars. The Halifax woman also faces seven charges of failing to comply.

“I have made terrible coping choices,” Cooley told CTV Atlantic’s Bruce Frisko during an exclusive interview.

“I’m not excusing my behaviour and I would do anything to make amends. I just can’t roll out $5,000, but if I could, I would.”

Cooley, who lives with anxiety, says she has been struggling with a number of personal issues this past year, including the breakup of a relationship. She says a long-time struggle with alcohol reared its head and the anti-anxiety medication she was taking didn’t agree with her.

Cooley says she was lonely and struggling to cope and the bars and restaurants provided an escape and some company.

“I just need to go out and be around where adults are … I don’t even know how I’ll forgive myself,” she said. “I didn’t enjoy myself at all.”

But the owner of Halifax’s Armview Restaurant and Lounge says their problem patron acted differently.

“She seemed to be enjoying herself while she was here, ordering one drink after another,” said George Kapetanakis.

Kapetanakis says his staff called police when a patron matching Cooley’s description couldn’t pay a tab approaching $100.

“The lies came out pretty quickly and she had a plan and she ran,” he said. “The police came, they were chasing her through the woods, my staff was chasing her up the street.”

Kapetanakis says that patron is no longer welcome in his establishment.

“I am incredibly sorry … but if there’s something I could do to make amends on any level, I would,” said Cooley.

For now, those amends are playing out in the legal system. Cooley made a brief court appearance in Dartmouth earlier this week and is due to make her case before a judge in mental health court on Aug. 16. She says she would like all of the charges against her to be dealt with in that venue and all at once.

Until then, Cooley remains under house arrest – one of the conditions of her release following her arrest for the alleged dine-and-dash spree.

None of the allegations has been proven in court.

With files from CTV Atlantic's Bruce Frisko