Trusted assistant Carol Hawkins 'slowly stole £2.3m' from U2 bassist Adam Clayton

PA to Adam Clayton is accused of taking 181 cheques from two accounts over four years

A former personal assistant to the U2 bass player Adam Clayton embezzled €2.8m (£2.3m) of his fortune, a court heard yesterday.

Carol Hawkins is accused of 181 counts of stealing cheques from the rock star between 2004 and 2008, in what prosecutors described as a "grubby tale" involving a gross breach of trust.

Dublin's Circuit Criminal Court was told that she worked for Mr Clayton for 16 years, earning up to €48,000 a year (£38,700) and living rent-free at his Georgian mansion in Rathfarnham, in the south of the city.

Ms Hawkins, 48, was initially employed in 1992 as a housekeeper but quickly gained his trust and was promoted to the role of personal assistant.

Colm O'Briain, for the prosecution, told the jury that Mr Clayton, who sat in the court, appointed Ms Hawkins as signatory to a number of his bank accounts. It was from two accounts – the Fitzwilliam account and Danesmoate account – that she is accused of withdrawing a total €2.8m over four years. She allegedly withdrew €1.7m (£1.4m) from the Fitzwilliam account and €1.1m (£900,000) from Danesmoate. The funds were then allegedly placed in three separate accounts – her own personal account, a joint account with her former husband, John Hawkins, and a Bank of Ireland Credit Card Services account.

Mr O'Briain said Ms Hawkins and Mr Hawkins, who was employed by Mr 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 Mr Clayton picked up the monthly rent bill of about €2,600 (£2,100).

The couple were paid a joint salary of €3,800 (£3,000) a month. Mr Clayton also continued to pay Ms Hawkins the full amount even after her marriage ended in 2007, eventually raising her monthly pay to €4,080 (£3,295).

Mr O'Briain urged the jury not to be swayed by the fact Mr Clayton was famous and wealthy. "He placed a substantial amount of trust in her," he said. "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."

Mr Clayton will be called as a witness during the trial, which is expected to last six weeks.

Ms Hawkins, of Dublin,denies all the charges and the trial continues.

48,000

Salary, in euros, paid to Carol Hawkins by Adam Clayton, the court heard.

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