Trial of councillor accused of embezzlement is postponed

THE trial of a former councillor charged with embezzling more than £85,000 has been postponed until the autumn.

Gordon Beurskens, 49, denies taking the cash from an elderly couple’s bank accounts over a three-year period.

At Livingston Sheriff Court today, Sheriff Ken Hogg granted a defence motion to put off the trial from July until October.

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He also allowed the prosecution to extend the timebar, which was due to run out at the end of July, and to lodge additional evidence.

A two-day hearing has been fixed for September to debate the “delay and oppression” allegedly caused to Beurskens by the time it has taken for the case to come to court.

Lothian and Borders Police launched an investigation into the former West Lothian councillor’s finances in October 2009.

His trial, before a sheriff and jury, is expected to last for three weeks.

Beurskens is charged with obtaining a mandate to operate five bank accounts held by pensioners James and Janet McQue and using their bank cards to conduct online transactions amounting to £743.32 and to make cash withdrawals totalling £6,850.

He is alleged to have transferred cash from the couple’s accounts to his bank account for his own purposes and to have switched money into an account held by his partner Sadie McMillan, with whom he shares a home in Longridge, West Lothian,

In total, he is alleged to have embezzled £85,173.35 or thereby by withdrawing money from the Royal Bank of Scotland.

Court papers state that Mr McQue is now dead and Mrs McQue, 83, lives in Dalkeith, Midlothian.

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