Sunday 21 January 2018

Clayton PA used bank card for year after being cut off, court told

Nicola Anderson

Nicola Anderson

U2 star Adam Clayton's former personal assistant still had a bank card linked to the musician's account a year after her right to sign cheques had been taken away.

The bank card came to light when Bank of Ireland telephoned Mr Clayton's accountants to query a laser card transaction on one of Mr Clayton's accounts in October 2009.

The card was in the name of Carol Hawkins.

Ms Hawkins (47), of Lower Rathmines Road, Dublin, denies 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.

Aoife O'Brien, an accountant at the time with the practice of Mr Gaby Smith, told how Mr Smith was contacted by phone by a bank official on October 15, 2009. The accountancy practice handled Mr Clayton's affairs at the time.

The Bank of Ireland query about the laser card came a year after Ms Hawkins had been removed as a signatory from all of Mr Clayton's bank accounts.

The court had previously heard how this was following her confession to him that she had taken funds of around €13,000-€15,000 from his account to spend on airline flights for her benefit.

It also heard how new signatories were appointed to replace Ms Hawkins name for the purpose of accessing Mr Clayton's account to make payments.

Ms O'Brien told the jury yesterday that this phone call from the bank was the first knowledge she had that Ms Hawkins had a card.

Surprise

She contacted the bank on October 23, 2009, and was told that Ms Hawkins was no longer a signatory.

However, a few days later, Ms O'Brien said she received another call from the bank, informing her that mandates were supplementary to each other and that Ms Hawkins was still a signatory on Mr Clayton's account.

Ken Fogarty, defending, asked her if she had communicated this new information to Mr Smith and Ms O'Brien replied that she told him in person.

"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.

Bank of Ireland paperwork showed Ms Hawkins was a signatory, said Mr Fogarty.

However Ms O'Brien replied that this "didn't change the fact that she had taken money without Adam's approval".

Earlier, a director of a travel company told the court that Ms Hawkins's husband John was booked on a return flight to Miami costing nearly €20,000.

Liam Lonegran, of Travel Care and Club Travel, said a first-class flight to Miami would normally cost around €3,000.

Mr Lonegran told the court that a customer statement showed Mr Hawkins as the lead passenger on for the flight on December 17, 2005.

"This price would indicate more than one passenger travelled. A business class or first-class flight would not cost this much," said Mr Lonegran.

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.

The trial continues.

Irish Independent

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