Monday 16 October 2017

Clayton PA found guilty of stealing €2.8m from star

U2 star Adam Clayton
U2 star Adam Clayton
Nicola Anderson

Nicola Anderson

THE former personal assistant of U2 star Adam Clayton was "still maintaining her innocence" after a jury found her guilty of stealing €2.8m from the rock star's personal bank accounts.

Carol Hawkins (47), from Lower Rathmines Road in Dublin, was convicted on all 181 counts of theft, with unanimous verdicts by the jury at the Circuit Criminal Court in Dublin on each count yesterday. She will be sentenced on July 6.

The evidence in the case had been "overwhelming", Judge Patrick McCartan told the jury after they had returned their verdicts following five hours and three minutes of deliberations. "Nobody could seriously disagree with the verdicts you have reached," he said.

He released Ms Hawkins on continuing bail for a further week to allow the mother of two "to get her affairs in order" after being petitioned to do so by her counsel Ken Fogarty, who told the judge that his client was "still maintaining her innocence".

It took more than 25 minutes for the court clerk to read out each charge and for the jury foreman to reply.

Throughout it all, Ms Hawkins looked almost unnaturally calm and composed, staring into middle space with her chin resting on her clasped hands.

And when she raised a glass of water to her lips, her hand did not shake.

However, her face betrayed the stress of the ordeal as she looked deathly pale and lacking in sleep. Dressed in black, she had an expensive-looking olive green rain jacket by her side and a hair-tie wrapped around her wrist.

There was nobody there for her in court.

As the reading of the verdicts drew to a close, Adam Clayton slipped on to a courtroom bench, his face wreathed in a smile of obvious relief.

After the jury had completed its task, Ms Hawkins' barrister Ken Fogarty went over to whisper a word and Ms Hawkins gave a small but distinct hoot of dry laughter.

It had been a long and "grubby tale", as counsel for the prosecution had said in their opening statement of the trial.

Over the 17 years she had worked for the U2 bassist, the mother-of-two had gained his "absolute trust" to the extent that she had wound up as a signatory on two of his personal bank accounts with access to a "never-ending pot of money", the prosecution had told the jury.

"Deliberately, knowingly and cunningly", she had laid a false trail to cover her tracks when she wrote 181 cheques to deposit large chunks of money to her own account, a joint account with her then husband John Hawkins and to her credit card account, to which she had also linked cards for her two children.

The deception only emerged in 2008 when she confessed to Mr Clayton that she had used around €15,000 of his money to book flights to visit her children in the US and London. Weeping, she had told him that she blamed the stress of her marriage break-up for her conduct.

Lavish

Magnanimously, the wealthy rock star decided to keep her on as an employee, though the banks were instructed to end her access to his bank accounts. But he was so concerned about her wellbeing that he gave her the number of a therapist after she claimed to be suicidal.

A year later, it was discovered that Ms Hawkins was still using a Laser card linked to his account and subsequent investigations revealed that she had "proceeded up Fifth Avenue in New York and Bond Street in London like a whirlwind with a credit card".

In a "veritable orgy of spending", she lavished hundreds of thousands of euro on an apartment in New York, on race horses and their costly maintenance, designer shoes and handbags, clothes and jewellery, exotic holidays and fancy restaurants.

During the trial, Ms Hawkins chose not to take the witness stand.

The defence attempted to explain her conduct away by saying that nobody had told her to stop, that there were no checks or balances being done on her book-keeping and that this spending, in any case, had been done for the benefit of Mr Clayton himself.

When he took the stand, however, the quietly spoken musician -- who describes himself as an intensely private man -- was emphatic. He had never given Carol Hawkins permission to use his money for her own purposes.

"I bought the things I liked to have around me. She bought cornflakes," was how he put it.

After the hearing yesterday, Adam Clayton left the courthouse and made a beeline to where some members of the jury were standing outside to offer a personal 'thank you' to them, shaking their hands.

He then had a brief word for the media, saying he welcomed the outcome of the trial.

"I wish to thank the jury, An Garda Siochana and all those involved with the case," he said.

"I'd like to thank all of my family, friends and colleagues for their support," Mr Clayton added, before walking away in the direction of a waiting taxi.

Irish Independent

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