A shamed former councillor who submitted false invoices to the taxman in a failed bid to get a VAT refund has been jailed for four months.
Gordon Beurskens will start serving the new sentence in September this year once he completes an 18-month jail term he is currently serving for embezzlement.
Beurskens, 51, once West Lothian Council’s former Action to Save St. John’s Hospital member for Whitburn and Blackburn, admitted being knowingly concerned in the fraudulent evasion of Value Added Tax over a five month period to March 3, 2011.
He pled guilty at Livingston Sheriff Court to attempting to obtain a £4000 refund from Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs by submitting false invoices for work he claimed had been done for his financial firm ABW Consultants (Scotland) Ltd.
The Crown accepted not guilty pleas from Beurskens in relation to two other VAT evasion charges involving a total of £25,000.
Brian Robertson, prosecuting, said VAT officers had found four entries supported by false documentation in a claim submitted by Beurskens as director of ABW Consultants.
He said: “He was attempting to get £4000 from HMRC in relation to VAT refunds under false pretences.”
Neil Robertson, defending, said Beurskens had never received any money as a result of his deceit and the company had gone into liquidation shortly afterwards.
He said: “The company at the time was struggling with debt, as was Mr Beurskens. That was the reason behind this attempt.”
Mr Robertson highlighted that Beurskens proud record of public service had ended after he failed to win re-election in 2012 and was then sentenced in April this year to 18 months in prison for embezzlement.
He said Beurskens’ earliest release date from that sentence was September 28 this year.
Mr Beurskens told the court: “He appears before the court today as a man who’s lost his liberty and his reputation. He has fallen a great way from the time he was a councillor.
“He was a man who had a good record of public service. That has all gone now – he fully understands that.”
Passing sentence, Sheriff Peter Hammond told Beurskens: “This is a serious offence. Parliament has provided a maximum sentence of seven years imprisonment.
“I acknowledge the effect this matter has had upon you, the fact that the money was not obtained and all that Mr Robertson has said about the circumstances of your health.
“I’m satisfied that the only appropriate sentence is a custodial one and I’m not persuaded that it should be concurrent but it will be a substantially mitigated period of imprisonment.”