U2 bassist's assistant 'stole €2.8m'

 

A former personal assistant of U2's Adam Clayton earned his trust before being promoted to the role and embezzling €2.8 million of his funds, a court heard today.

Carol Hawkins is on trial for 181 counts of stealing cheques from the bass player between 2004 and 2008.

The Circuit Criminal Court in Dublin heard how the 48-year-old worked for Clayton for some 16 years, earning up to €48,000 a year and living rent free at his home.

She was initially employed as a housekeeper at the bassist's Georgian mansion - Danesmoate - in Rathfarnham, South Dublin, but quickly gained his trust and was promoted over the years to the role of personal assistant.

Prosecution barrister, senior counsel Colm O'Briain, told the jury of seven men and five women that Clayton appointed Ms Hawkins as signatory to a number of his bank accounts.

It was from two particular accounts - known as the Fitzwilliam account and the Danesmoate account - that she is accused of withdrawing a total €2.8 million over four years.

Clayton, dressed in a dark jacket and white shirt, sat intently at the back of the court as the prosecution opened its case.

Mr O'Briain said Ms Hawkins and her then husband John Hawkins, who had also been employed by Clayton as a driver, lived at the musician's Danesmoate home - where U2 recorded their album The Joshua Tree.

The property was refurbished during 2005 and Ms Hawkins and her husband were forced to move into another house, which Clayton picked up the monthly rent bill of around €2,600.

The pair had also been paid a joint salary, taking in around €3,800 a month.

But Clayton continued to pay Ms Hawkins the full amount even after her marriage ended in 2007, eventually raising her monthly income to 4,080 - representing a net salary of around €48,000 , the barrister added.

Ms Hawkins, from Lower Rathmines Road in Dublin, denies all the charges.

The trial, before Judge Patrick McCartan, is expected to last six weeks.

Mr O'Briain described the case as "a grubby tale" involving a gross breach of trust.

He urged the jury not to be swayed by the fact that Clayton is famous and wealthy, saying no man deserves to be stolen from by someone he trusts.

"Mr Clayton employed Ms Hawkins from 1992. She lived in his own house for 13 or 14 years, he placed a substantial amount of trust in her," Mr O'Briain went on.

"Trust developed. He is no different from anyone else in respect of that. He is as entitled as any other to place his trust in people, to rely on that trust and to not go about his life thinking the worst of people."

Ms Hawkins is accused of stealing cheques from two bank accounts on which she was a signatory.

She allegedly withdrew €1.7 million (£1.1 million) from the Fitzwilliam account and €1.1 million euro (£889,400) from the Danesmoate account.

The funds were then placed in three separate accounts - her own personal account, a joint account between herself and her husband John and a Bank of Ireland Credit Card Services account.

Clayton will be called as a witness during the trial.

PA

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