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Benefit cheat sentenced.

Date: 13/08/2008           Category: Legal and Property Services

A woman from Gillingham who falsely claimed £7,000 in benefits has been sentenced. Maxine Hill, 39, of Lobelia Close, Gillingham, was convicted and sentenced to a 12-month community order and 150 hours of unpaid work at Maidstone Crown Court on Monday, 11 August. Recorder Ian Glen QC also ordered her to pay £500 costs. Hill had previously pleaded guilty to three charges of dishonestly making false statements to obtain £7, 011.76 in housing benefits and council tax benefits while living as a single person under her maiden name of Maxine Adley. She admitted to falsely claiming benefits while living with her partner David Hill, who she failed to declare she was living with. The pair married in June 2004. She had previously claimed benefits as a single person, but had failed to declare she was living with her partner when she changed address. The offences took place on 22 October, 2002 to 22 July, 2003; 21 January, 2004 to 12 July, 2004; and from 29 August. 2005 to 29 February, 2006. During a visit to Maxine’s home in December 2005, Medway Council Verification Officers noticed Christmas cards addressed to them both. The case was then handed to the council’s investigation team. During the investigation, officers discovered that the Hills had married in Canada, the couple had a joint bank account and that Mr Hill paid a communications bill for the property in Lobelia Close. Maxine Hill made an offer to repay the council £200 a month, during Monday’s court case. Medway Council’s Portfolio Holder for Finance Cllr Alan Jarrett said: “This prosecution sends a clear message to everyone that Medway Council will not tolerate benefit fraud of any kind. “It is completely unacceptable and we won’t hesitate to investigate, track down and prosecute those who cheat the system. “I would like to pay tribute to the council’s investigation and legal teams who work tirelessly to make sure benefits go to the people who really need them.”