Ex-councillor on trial on £80k embezzlement charge

AN ex-councillor who campaigned for St John’s Hospital has gone on trial charged with embezzling nearly £80,000 from an elderly couple.

Gordon Beurskens pleaded not guilty at Livingston Sheriff Court. Picture Gordon McBrearty

Gordon Beurskens, 51, has pleaded not guilty to repeatedly transferring money from five bank accounts held by James and Janet McQue between 2006 and 2009.

The offences are alleged to have been committed at various addresses throughout West Lothian, including the Breich Inn, which he used to run near West Calder, his home in Rashierigg Place, Longridge, and at his office at the West Lothian Council headquarters in Livingston.

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Beurskens was an independent Action to Save St John’s Hospital councillor for Whitburn and Blackburn, until he lost his seat in the May 2012 local elections.

One of the charges, in which he denies acquiring and using criminal property, has been brought under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.

The alleged total involved is £77,580.

The jury trial, which began at Livingston Sheriff Court yesterday, is scheduled to last for more than three weeks and involves around 200 pieces of evidence.

The jury heard evidence that Beurskens obtained a third-party mandate signed by the couple, which gave him control over their bank accounts.

Detective Sergeant Gordon Burns, of Police Scotland’s financial investigation unit, told the court yesterday that CID officers searched the accused’s home and his council office in March 2009 as part of an investigation into his finances.

They seized financial records, bank statements, computers and a laptop from his home for examination.

DS Burns said when they asked Beurskens’ bank for “associated accounts”, the names of Mr McQue, who has since died, and his wife came up.

Giving evidence, he talked the jury through the third-party mandate, which he said was signed by the couple in favour of the accused.

He listed a number of transfers from the McQues’ accounts to Beurskens and his partner, which he said were made over several months in 2006.

He also detailed transactions involving several thousand pounds at a time being moved between Beursken’s account and his partner’s.

The trial continues.