Sunday 18 March 2018

Housekeeper had jumped at chance to live rent-free in a rock star's home

Breda Heffernan

Breda Heffernan

SHE was the humble housekeeper with a taste for the millionaire's high life.

Carol Hawkins had a ring-side seat on the lavish lifestyle of the world's biggest band and it appears that intimacy bred a sense of entitlement.

She and her former husband John, who acted as Adam Clayton's chauffeur, were on a relatively modest joint salary of €48,000 in the mid-2000s.

But Hawkins's exuberance for spending knew no bounds and she ploughed through €2.8m of her employer's cash in just four years.

Only A-list fashion designers and department stores would do -- Hermes, Chanel, Cavalli, Harvey Nichols and Brown Thomas. Even Carrie Bradshaw would have winced at the €1,200 she dropped at Christian Louboutin and another €1,189 at Manolo Blahnik.

While her boss was away touring the world with his U2 bandmates -- leaving Hawkins in charge of his south Co Dublin home -- she was enjoying first-class flights to her own foreign sojourns in the south of France, New York and Italy.

The mother of two lavished cash on her children, too, spending over €21,000 on a new VW Golf for her son Joe and lodging almost €20,000 into a British bank account in the name of her daughter Eleanor.

In his evidence, Mr Clayton said he believed she was funding her children's education at his expense when she spent €26,000 at the New York Film Academy and €13,000 at the Instuto Marangoni in Venice.

In an orgy of spending, Hawkins splurged thousands on top-end dentistry, jewellery and restaurants. However, the housekeeper was soon becoming even more audacious in her shopping sprees.

While it may have been possible to hide €1,200 spent on health products or devise a work pretext for running up a phone bill of €8,100, some of her purchases were impossibly extravagant for a personal assistant's meagre means.


It was always going to be difficult to conceal the €310,000 she splashed out on a New York apartment or the €434,000 she blew on a stable of 22 racehorses. By this time, Hawkins was in a spiral of spending and her marriage was in tatters.

Hawkins, originally from north London, first met Mr Clayton while running a small hotel with her husband in the Caribbean. It was Christmas 1992 and the weary businesswoman confessed to her megastar guest that she was tired of life in the sun and wanted to return to Europe for the sake of her young children's education.

The U2 guitarist mused over this conversation during the following months. He was "fed up" returning home from touring to his Georgian mansion, Danesmoate, in Rathfarnham, and finding the electricity cut off. He wanted someone to stock the fridge, do a bit of cooking and keep the house ticking over. With her hotel experience, he thought Hawkins might fit the bill.

She jumped at the chance of living rent free in a rock star's home and Mr Clayton employed her husband to do some driving for him. Though initially employed as a housekeeper, Hawkins gained her employer's trust to be promoted to his personal assistant with access to his bank accounts.

The U2 guitarist was an understanding boss. When Hawkins split from her husband around 2007, Mr Clayton continued to pay her the full salary of the two. However, in 2008, when she broke down and confessed to spending €13,000 of his money on airline flights without his permission, Mr Clayton was "rattled".

She told him she was suicidal following the break-up of her marriage and had taken an overdose. After weighing up the years of loyal service she had shown him, Mr Clayton decided not to fire her. They agreed that Hawkins would pay him back €500 a month.

But that €13,000 would prove to be just a drop in the ocean.

To the bitter end, Hawkins has maintained her innocence. But she cut a sorry figure as she hurried in and out of court with a green scarf wrapped around her face and only her solicitor to accompany her.

Her defence counsel Ken Fogarty yesterday said she was homeless and destitute with debts of €34,000.

Irish Independent

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