News Courts

Monday 25 September 2017

Live-in assistant stole €2.8m from U2 bassist, court hears

Lyndsey Telford

ROCK star Adam Clayton allowed a woman to live in his house for 14 years and gave her access to two of his bank accounts before she embezzled €2.8m of his funds, a court was told yesterday.

Carol Hawkins is on trial for 181 counts of stealing cheques from the U2 bass player between 2004 and 2008.

Mr Clayton, dressed in a dark jacket and white shirt, sat at the back of the court as the prosecution opened its case.

Ms Hawkins, from Lower Rathmines Road in Dublin, denies all the charges and Mr Clayton will later be called as a witness during the trial.

The Circuit Criminal Court in Dublin yesterday heard how Ms Hawkins (48), worked for Mr Clayton for 16 years, earning up to €48,000 a year and living rent-free at his home.

She was initially employed as a housekeeper at the bassist's Georgian mansion, Danesmoate, in Rathfarnham, south Dublin, but quickly gained his trust and was promoted over the years to the role of personal assistant.

Prosecution barrister, Colm O'Briain, described the case as "a grubby tale of prolonged, repeated and pernicious fraud and gross mistrust".

He urged the jury not to be swayed by the fact that Mr Clayton is famous and wealthy, saying no man deserves to be stolen from by someone he trusts.

Trust

"Mr Clayton employed Ms Hawkins from 1992. She lived in his house for 13 or 14 years, he placed a substantial amount of trust in her," Mr O'Briain said.

"Trust developed. He is no different from anyone else in respect of that. He is as entitled as any other to place his trust in people, to rely on that trust and to not go about his life thinking the worst of people."

He told the jury of seven men and five women that Mr Clayton appointed Ms Hawkins as signatory to a number of his bank accounts. It was from two particular accounts -- known as the Fitzwilliam account and the Danesmoate account -- that she is accused of withdrawing a total of €2.8m over four years.

The funds were then placed in three separate accounts: her personal account, a joint account between herself and her husband and a credit card account.

Mr O'Briain said Ms Hawkins and her then husband, John Hawkins, who had also been employed by Mr Clayton as a driver, lived at the musician's home, where U2 recorded their album 'The Joshua Tree'.

The property was refurbished during 2005 and Ms Hawkins and her husband were forced to move into another house, for which Mr Clayton paid the rent of around €2,600. The pair had also been paid a joint salary, taking in €3,800 a month.

But Mr Clayton continued to pay Ms Hawkins the full amount even after her marriage ended in 2007, eventually raising her monthly income to €4,080 -- representing a net salary of around €48,000, the barrister added.

The court heard that in 2008, Ms Hawkins told Mr Clayton she had paid for flights wrongly out of his accounts, to visit her children in the UK and US.

Mr Clayton removed her as signatory to his two bank accounts but kept her on as his personal assistant.

After this initial disclosure, an investigation took place and in November 2009, Ms Hawkins's employment was terminated, the court was told.

The trial is expected to last six weeks.

Irish Independent

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