Woman scuba-diver claimed disability

A Blue Water yachting couple who lived on benefits, including disability allowances are facing jail after sailing half-way round the world on a £100,000 yacht.

Shashi Bacheta, 52, had claimed she was so ill she had trouble getting out of bed, but investigators said she went 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. Cole pretended to be her landlord when they were, in fact, living together, the court heard.

Shashi Bacheta pleaded guilty to 16 charges at Swansea Crown Court
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.
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.

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.”