Friday 22 September 2017

Video: Clayton is to get proceeds from sale of apartment PA bought with his money

FRAUDSTER: Adam Clayton's former PA Carol Hawkins (face covered) arriving at court before she was jailed for seven years
FRAUDSTER: Adam Clayton's former PA Carol Hawkins (face covered) arriving at court before she was jailed for seven years

Nicola Donnelly

ADAM CLAYTON is to get back €191,000 of the €2.8m that his former personal assistant Carol Hawkins stole from him after Judge Patrick McCartan ordered that the proceeds from the sale of the New York apartment, which Hawkins purchased with his money, be released from the bank and go directly to him.

The order was made at the end of the trial.

Hawkins, who was jailed for seven years on Friday, paid around €310,000 in 2007 for the Rector Square apartment.

So far, this is the only amount recovered from Hawkins' unauthorised spending spree of Mr Clayton's money. A number of watches, valued at €4,000, and a number of laptops and computers along with musical instruments were recovered by gardai from Hawkins' house when she was arrested in 2009. Mr Clayton is to take civil proceedings to pursue the recovery of his losses.

Hawkins -- who has run up a personal debt of €34,000 and has been unemployed since 2009 -- "has no nest egg squirrelled away," according to her defence counsel Ken Fogarty.

Detective Garda Clodagh White told Mr Fogarty that after examining Hawkins' bank statements she did not notice any attempt to "secrete away funds".

Det White said she "could not identify any proceeds of crime," and there was no evidence of funds being transferred to other bank accounts from Hawkins' accounts. It is not known what happened to the proceeds from the sale in 2008 of 22 thoroughbred racehorses, which Ms Hawkins bought and maintained using over €400,000 of the guitarist's money.

Hawkins, originally from North London, sat motionless in the dock, looking up at Judge Patrick McCartan as he summarised the evidence from the 18-day trial. Dressed in her olive green coat and scarf, she placed a black sports bag and her black handbag beside her, appearing to be prepared for a custodial sentence. Mr Clayton was not in court for the sentencing.

Hawkins, with an address at Lower Rathmines Road, Dublin, had pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to 181 counts of theft from two of Mr Clayton's Bank of Ireland accounts over a four-year period from 2004 to 2008. The total amount stolen was €2,869,274.

Judge McCartan said the scale of the thefts, the significant breach of trust, and the fact she maintained her innocence throughout the trial despite being found guilty by a jury were factors in handing down a severe sentence.

He said nothing could explain away the scale of this dishonesty other than the "greed in pursuit of a lavish lifestyle" that bore no responsibility of Mr Clayton.

He said it was suggested by defence counsel she was entitled to do it and no one told her to stop or that it was wrong.

"The way she went to cover up what she was doing and lie directly to Adam Clayton indicates she knew well she wasn't entitled to do what she did and had no justification for it," said Judge McCartan.

"It was a crime rooted in greed and nothing else."

In reference to Mr Clayton keeping Hawkins on as an employee in 2008 when she admitted she took €15,000 of his money for flights to visit her children, the judge said: "Adam Clayton seems to have been a good employer and a person capable of showing care and compassion and gave her a second chance."

Mr Fogarty asked Judge McCartan to take into account the public attention Hawkins received throughout the trial, saying: "The sentence you pass is only part of the practical impact on the rest of her life."

Following an extensive investigation after initial irregularities were noticed in Mr Clayton's accounts in November 2009, it was discovered 181 cheques were written on Mr Clayton's two accounts -- the Fitzwilliam and Danesmoate accounts -- without the consent or knowledge of the U2 bass guitarist.

Mr Clayton told the court that Ms Hawkins was never entitled to write cheques for her own benefit.

Evidence was also heard that Ms Hawkins started to write cheques from his accounts in her name and lodging them into her personal, joint and credit card accounts and used the money to "fund a lavish lifestyle" purchasing and maintaining the racehorses, the New York apartment and holidays.

She also spent €1.4m on her credit card which was also funded from Mr Clayton's accounts.

Mr Fogarty said Hawkins, who has two A-Levels, fully contested the case which is an "indication of the belief of her innocence" and "without a doubt she does not accept the jury's verdict as she felt she had the authority to write the cheques".

"I can't offer an excuse in respect of the decision she has made in conclusion of the case of overwhelming evidence and because of the adverse publicity, anywhere she goes in the world she will be known," said Mr Fogarty.

After the sentence was handed down, Judge McCartan said he would extend legal aid in the event of an appeal.

Hawkins then quietly mouthed the words 'thank you' before she was led away by prison officers to a prison van, which ironically bore the security number U2 on the side and back.

Sunday Independent

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