A trusted former councillor callously embezzled the life savings of a vulnerable elderly couple who treated him like a son, court heard.
Gordon Beurskens, who was convicted of stealing £77,580 from retired businessman Jimmy McQue and his wife Nettie, today started an 18 month prison sentence for the appalling breach of trust.
Beurskens, 51, appeared for sentence at Livingston Sheriff Court after earlier being found guilty by a jury following a three-week trial.
In addition to sending Beurskens to prison, Sheriff Kevin Drummond ordered the shamed public figure to pay the McQue family £65,480 compensation.
The court was told the Crown is also seeking to recover £500,000 from Beurskens under Proceeds of Crime laws after experts estimated he’d made £1.29million from criminal activity .
Beurskens – who runs a Jaguar with the personalized number plate B1GGB – was said to own two houses in West Lothian and deposits £280,000 in the bank from the sale of his Breich Inn business in West Lothian and a flat in Edinburgh.
Neil Robertson, defending, produced numerous character references to support his claim that his client was “a man of long standing diligence in public service”.
But he added: “He’s also a man who appears before your Lordship financially and reputationally broken.” He appealed to the court to impose a community sentence.
However, Sheriff Drummond told Beurskens that the McQues had treated him generously and had thought his willingness to handle their financial affairs was by way of gratitude for their kindness.
He said: “You abused that trust and friendship by treating their savings as your own and by using their money to fund a business venture on which you had embarked.
“You have continued to hold yourself out as a trusted friend and respected public figure who was acting in their best interests. You have maintained these positions in the face of compelling evidence to the contrary: you have shown no remorse whatsoever for your actions.”
The sheriff highlighted a Social Enquiry Report which recorded that Beurskens continued to maintain the same position that had been rejected by the jury who had given long and careful consideration to their verdict.
He said one of the things the jury had not been allowed to hear to ensure the fairness of the proceedings was the last thing Mrs McQue said in her statement to police in 2009: “…. how could he be so wicked?”
He added: “That could be said to characterise the abuse of trust involved.
“The period of time over which the embezzlement took place, the amount of money, and the abuse of trust involved are such that I consider it is unable to be dealt with other than by a custodial sentence.”
Former ironmonger Mr. McQue, who suffered from dementia, died several years ago. Mrs. McQue passed away in hospital aged 86 a few days after the jury returned its majority verdict finding Beurskens guilty.
He had denied embezzling the money over a three year period by misusing a third party mandate giving him authority to transfer money from the couple’s accounts.
Beurskens, was an ‘Action to Save St. John’s Hospital’ member of West Lothian Council until he lost his seat in the 2012 local elections.