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Sunday 17 December 2017

Adam Clayton's PA 'went on an orgy of spending'

Carol Hawkins is accused of 181 counts of theft from U2 bass player Adam Clayton while employed by him
Carol Hawkins is accused of 181 counts of theft from U2 bass player Adam Clayton while employed by him
Nicola Anderson

Nicola Anderson

U2 star Adam Clayton's former personal assistant "proceeded like a whirlwind down Fifth Avenue in New York and Bond Street in London with a credit card" but was "clever enough" not to show the musician that she was living the "high life", a jury has heard.

In closing speeches at the trial of Mr Clayton's former PA Carol Hawkins, counsel for the prosecution put it to the jury that Ms Hawkins had engaged in "brazen fraud" and as a result had been able to indulge in a "veritable orgy of spending".

However the defence argued that Ms Hawkins was "not an accountant or a lawyer" but merely a housekeeper who had wound up doing accounts for Mr Clayton, without receiving proper training or any guidance on what she was not to do.

Ms Hawkins (47), of Lower Rathmines Road, Dublin, has 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 alleged thefts totalled €2,862,567.

The defence did not go into evidence in the trial. However, Judge Patrick McCartan warned the jury this did not mean they could "close down the shutters" as there was no onus on the accused to give evidence.

The jury will resume its deliberations today, having spent two and a half hours considering its verdict yesterday.

Colm O Briain, for the prosecution, suggested that a false trail had been set "deliberately, knowingly and cunningly" by Ms Hawkins to explain away cheques drawn on Mr Clayton's bank accounts.

Then "feeling the net closing in", she had taken the "very clever" move of confessing to a minor sum on the basis that she might get away with that, Mr O Briain argued.

Using the example of a GAA club with a bank account and signatories, Mr O Briain said it was a "nonsense proposition" to suggest that someone who was a signatory on such an account could "write cheques, put them into your account and happily spend the money on yourself".

Urging the jury to take a look at the nature of the €1.5m credit card expenditure by Ms Hawkins, and the two cards linked to her account in the name of her children, over three or four years on items from department stores, airlines, restaurants and music equipment, Mr O Briain said that it had been a "veritable orgy of spending and of spending other people's money".

Clever

Ms Hawkins had "proceeded like a whirlwind down Fifth Avenue in New York and Bond Street in London with a credit card, no doubt to the delight of luxury retailers," he said.

The defence had asked Mr Clayton if he had ever seen evidence of Ms Hawkins living the high life but Ms Hawkins was "clever enough not to show that to him," Mr O Briain said.

Meanwhile, counsel for the defence, Ken Fogarty, argued that Ms Hawkins was not an accountant or a lawyer but a housekeeper who was given book-keeping duties without anyone overseeing her work.

She was "literally the right hand of Adam Clayton" but had never been told what she could or could not do.

The break up of her marriage had been a "devastating episode", when her husband had "walked out the door with a younger woman", he said.

Referring to the apartment bought by Ms Hawkins in New York, Mr Fogarty said the proceeds of this apartment were "always regarded as the beneficial property of Mr Clayton".

He explained the luxury goods were also purchased for Mr Clayton, saying: "The reality is Adam Clayton gave good presents and the person who went out to buy those presents was Carol Hawkins."

Making a comparison with the Titanic, he said Mr Clayton was the captain of the ship but there was "no warning system in place or anyone on lookout."

Judge McCartan told the jury that the law says consent obtained by deception is not consent. After deliberating for over two hours the jury sought the judge's opinion on which was more important -- the issue of consent or what the money had been spent on. The judge declined to answer, saying: "I'm not a member of the jury."

The hearing resumes today.

Irish Independent

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