A CROOKED ex-councillor has been convicted of helping himself to a vulnerable old couple’s life savings.
Gordon Beurskens claimed pensioners Jimmy and Nettie McQue had given him “unlimited” control of their bank accounts so they could keep their money “below the radar”.
He said the £77,580 he took from the couple was an ongoing “loan” which he intended to repay with interest.
But a jury at Livingston Sheriff Court rejected his excuses and returned a majority verdict finding him guilty of embezzlement.
When the jury’s decision – after more than six hours of deliberation – was read out in court Beurskens, 51, seemed visibly shaken and blinked back tears.
Moments after his conviction the former West Lothian councillor was hit with a Proceeds of Crime demand from the Crown.
Sheriff Kevin Drummond called for background reports and told Beurskens he would be sentenced later. Bail was continued.
Unusually, neither of Beursken’s’ victims gave evidence in court during the seven-day trial. The jury was told that former ironmonger Jimmy McQue – who suffered from dementia – had died several years ago, while his wife, Nettie, now aged 87, was in a care home after suffering a stroke.
Beurskens had denied using a third party mandate signed by the couple to drain money from the couple’s accounts into his own.
The jury heard evidence from Mrs McQue’s 2008 police statement that she trusted Beurskens so much she would “sign anything” he put in front of her.
She expressed surprise to cops that an £8000 ISA had been cashed in without her knowledge and the money transferred to Beursken’s bank account.
She added:“I have been gullible. I think Gordon has taken advantage of us . . . I am absolutely disgusted.”
The jury heard that Beurskens and his partner Sadie McMillan used the couple’s cash to run up a huge bill at the Ritz Hotel in London’s Piccadilly. An invoice for £1638.70 for a two-night stay in September 2007, was found in papers seized from him. Beurskens served as an Action to Save St John’s Hospital member of West Lothian Council but lost his seat in the 2012 local elections.