Page last updated at 16:23 GMT, Monday, 23 February 2009

Benefit fraud pair's 100k yacht

Shashi Bacheta and Jeffrey Cole on board their yacht
Shashi Bacheta and Jeffrey Cole on board the yacht Kismet

A couple claiming benefits who sailed part way around the world on a 100,000 yacht have been warned they face jail.

Shashi Bacheta, 52, had claimed she was so ill she had trouble getting out of bed, but investigators said she would go scuba diving.

Bacheta, of Swansea, admitted 16 counts relating to benefit fraud worth about 40,000 and Jeffrey Cole, 58, admitted four charges worth some 12,000.

They will be sentenced next month at Swansea Crown Court.

He pretended to be her landlord when they were in fact living together, the court heard.

Bacheta, now of Fforestfach, Swansea, admitted 16 charges of false accounting, fraud and deception.

At various times between October 2002 and January 2008 she claimed housing benefit, council tax relief, income support and disability living allowances.

Shashi Bacheta at Swansea Crown Court
It was an affront to those who can't afford the lifestyle they had been enjoying
Tal Davies, investigations manager, on Shashi Bacheta (pictured) and Jeffrey Cole

She had claimed to be unemployed and failed to declare she was living with Cole at his home in the Sketty area of the city or declare any of his assets.

These included his yacht Kismet.

He pleaded guilty to four offences of obtaining wrongful credits and false accounting.

At one stage he was the postmaster at Rheidol Avenue Post Office in Clase while she managed the newsagent side of the business.

Fraud investigators said they were both members of the Swansea Yacht Club and would regularly holiday abroad.

The investigators, working for Swansea council and the Department of Work and Pensions, came across photographs of them on board Cole's yacht Kismet in Gran Canaria.

His barrister, Francis Jones, said he was in the process of selling the yacht.

Judge Huw Davies QC agreed to postpone sentencing to allow probation officers time to prepare reports on their backgrounds.

He granted them bail but told them releasing them was no indication of the sentence they would receive.

The court heard about the couple's millionaire lifestyle

Judge Davies said guidelines indicated a custodial sentence when they appear again next month.

Speaking after the hearing Tal Davies, investigations manager at Swansea council, said it had been "a detailed and dedicated" investigation.

"The guilty pleas from both defendants are a credit to the teamwork and professionalism of investigators locally and specialised teams in Cardiff.

"What these people did was not a victimless crime.

"They were stealing from all those people who pay their taxes to help provide important public services.

"It was an affront to those who can't afford the lifestyle they had been enjoying."

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