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Last Updated: Thursday, 2 June, 2005, 15:24 GMT 16:24 UK
Runaway bride fined for fake tale
Jennifer Wilbanks arriving at court
Jennifer Wilbanks' disappearance was a huge source of intrigue
A runaway bride accused of faking her own abduction and claims of sexual assault has appeared at a US court.

Jennifer Wilbanks arrived at a county court in Georgia alongside her fiance John Mason to plead no contest to charges of making a false statement.

Ms Wilbanks, 32, was fined and sentenced to two years' probation and 120 hours of community service.

She vanished days before her wedding and initially said she was abducted, before admitting inventing the story.

"I'm truly sorry for my actions and I just want to thank Gwinnett County and the city of Duluth," she told the judge.

Ms Wilbanks was ordered to continue seeking mental health treatment and to pay a fine of $2,550 (1,400).

She has already offered to pay the city of Duluth, Georgia, $13,250 (7,300) to cover overtime costs incurred during the high-profile search for her.

'Running away'

Ms Wilbanks disappeared from her home in Duluth on 26 April, four days before her lavish wedding was scheduled to be attended by 600 guests.

'Missing' poster for Jennifer Wilbanks
Her disappearance provoked concern, then derision
She told her fiance she was going out for a run, but did not return.

She resurfaced three days later in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where she told police that she had been abducted and sexually assaulted.

That story fell apart under questioning, but Ms Wilbanks maintained that her disappearance was not connected to her impending wedding.

Her family have said that she was admitted to a psychiatric hospital for treatment during her disappearance.

She has already apologised in public, saying in a statement after re-appearing in New Mexico: "I was simply running away from myself and from certain fears controlling my life."

Local prosecutor Danny Porter said Ms Wilbanks' conviction would be erased from her record if she successfully completes her probation.





SEE ALSO:
Runaway US bride faces jail term
25 May 05 |  Americas
Runaway bride apologises for hoax
06 May 05 |  Americas
Apology call to US runaway bride
01 May 05 |  Americas


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