Friday 19 January 2018

Adam Clayton travel company claims husband of former PA Hawkins was booked on €20,000 Miami flight

U2 bass guitarist Adam Clayton. Photo: PA
U2 bass guitarist Adam Clayton. Photo: PA

Nicola Donnelly

A travel company which Adam Clayton used to book flights has claimed the husband of Carol Hawkins was booked onto a return flight to Miami costing nearly €20,000.

Liam Lonegran, Director of Travel Care and Club Travel, told the trial of Mr Clayton’s former personal assistant, who is accused of stealing nearly €3m worth of cheques from his accounts, that a first class flight to Miami would normally cost around €3,000.

Carol 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.

Mr Lonegran told prosecuting counsel Colm O’Briain BL that the customer statement shows John Hawkins as the lead passenger on December 17, 2005 for a return flight from Dublin to Miami valued at €19,285.08.

He said the statement shows the booking reference as Carol Hawkins and agreed with counsel that the total amount of the flight was “very high.”

“This price would indicate more than one passenger travelled. A business class or first class flight would not cost this much,” said Mr Lonegran on day sixteen of the trial.

He also claimed Mr Hawkins was the lead traveller on a flight booked by Ms Hawkins from Dublin to Gatwick to Cincinnati in Ohio on October 22, 2005 costing €16,139.66.

Under cross-examination by defence counsel Ken Fogarty, SC, Mr Lonegran said at the time a booking is made, all of the information is put onto the company’s computer system and a statement is made available on-line for its customers. He also said there are invoices to back up the customer statements.

A prosecution witness gave evidence that because of an error by Bank of Ireland, Ms Hawkins was still able to sign Mr Clayton’s cheques a year after the right was supposed to have been withdrawn from her.

Aoife O’Brien, an accountant, said that she wrongly believed that the accused had been replaced as a cheque signatory by someone else acting for Mr Clayton.

“I rang the bank on October 23 to clarify the new mandates cancelled out the old mandates for cheque signatories and I was told they did,” Ms O’Brien told counsel.

She said she requested the bank to send her the active mandates and received a call several days later from the bank that the information was incorrect and that the mandates were subsequent to each other, meaning Ms Hawkins was still a cheque signatory.

Defence counsel Ken Fogarty asked her if she had communicated this second instruction to her boss Gabby Smith. She agreed she had and said she had not done this in writing but simply walked into his office and told him.

“Does it surprise you to know that he does not have a clear recollection of this,” said Mr Fogarty. Ms O’Brien responded that she did not know why he did not recall this.

Mr Fogarty put it to her that paperwork from Bank of Ireland Private Banking was that Ms Hawkins was a signatory.

She said it didn’t change the fact that Ms Hawkins had taken money without Adam Clayton’s approval.

Mr O’Briain told the jury the prosecution case has now closed. It is not known yet whether the defence intends to call any witnesses.

Judge Patrick McCartan told the jury that, after defence close their case tomorrow, the trial will reach closing speeches and the jury will be charged. It is anticipated the jury will commence its deliberations on Friday afternoon.

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