Disgraced ex-councillor fears jail over £77k theft

Gordon Beurskens was convicted of embezzling �77,580 from an elderly couple. Picture: Lesley Martin
Gordon Beurskens was convicted of embezzling �77,580 from an elderly couple. Picture: Lesley Martin
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A DISGRACED ex-councillor convicted of embezzling an elderly couple’s life savings has said he is “frightened” of being sent to prison.

Gordon Beurskens, 51, was found guilty of siphoning £77,580 from five bank accounts belonging to James and Janet McQue – pensioners in their 80s whom he had known for a decade.

The former Independent councillor, who lost his seat on West Lothian Council in 2012, had denied the charges, saying it was a loan he was paying back with interest.

But a jury found him guilty on Thursday following a three-week trial at Livingston Sheriff Court.

Today, Beurskens laid bare his fears about going to prison and, incredibly, tried to claim that the police investigation into him had been “politically motivated”.

He claimed a political rival had periodically appeared in the public gallery to “gloat” at his downfall and said he was “genuinely shocked” when the jury returned its verdict.

Speaking to the News, he said: “I expected this would be the end of a five-and-a-half-year nightmare.

“It would seem the second instalment of that nightmare is yet to begin.

“It’s stomach churning to think that having gone through what we have it is still to reach a conclusion.”

And betraying a scant regard for the feelings of his victims’ families, he added: “It feels like you’ve been kicked in the stomach. The damage to my reputation is incalculable.

“The prospect of jail is frightening. I would just have to cope but I would be going to jail an innocent man.

“Although the sheriff has a number of potential disposals, he will clearly be looking at a custodial sentence as a distinct possibility.”

Beurskens held a third-party mandate over the McQues’ financial accounts. Janet McQue, 83, told police she trusted him so much she would “sign anything” he put in front of her.

After being told thousands of pounds had been taken from her bank account without her knowledge, she said: “I’m absolutely disgusted. He’s abused our trust when we thought he was being kind.” Beurskens – who claims the police inquiry into him was part of a “politically motivated witch-hunt” – said hearing those words made him “sad”, his voice cracking when he described the McQues as being as “close as family”.

“Most people when approached by the police and presented with a set of circumstances, especially someone of Janet’s generation, are going to accept that the police wouldn’t misrepresent the facts to them,” he said. “I’m not clear that didn’t happen.”

Beurskens, of Longridge, West Lothian, won a council seat in 2007 campaigning on the single-issue Action To Save St John’s Hospital.