Clayton assistant booked US flights costing €35,000

Thu, Jun 28, 2012, 01:00

A TRAVEL company used by U2 bass guitarist Adam Clayton to book flights has claimed the husband of Carol Hawkins was booked on to a return flight to Miami costing nearly €20,000.

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

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

Ms 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 Lonergan told prosecuting counsel Colm O’Briain that the customer statement shows Mr Hawkins as the lead passenger on December 17th, 2005, for a return flight from Dublin to Miami valued at €19,285.08. He said the statement showed the booking reference as Carol Hawkins and agreed with Mr O’Briain that the total amount was “very high.”

“This price would indicate more than one passenger travelled. A business-class or first-class flight would not cost this much,” he said.

Under cross-examination by defence senior counsel Ken Fogarty, Mr Lonergan said when a booking was made all the information was put on to the company’s computer system and a statement was made available online for customers. He said there were 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of Ireland, Ms Hawkins was still able to sign Mr Clayton’s cheques a year after the right was supposed to have been withdrawn.

Aoife O’Brien, an accountant at Gaby Smyth Co, said she had telephoned the bank to clarify the new mandates cancelled out the old mandates for cheque signatories. “I was told they did,” she said.

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

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

Judge Patrick McCartan told the jury that, after the defence closed its case today, the trial would reach closing speeches and the jury would be charged. It is anticipated the jury will begin deliberations tomorrow afternoon.