Clayton 'astonished' by spending on horses

Fri, Jun 22, 2012, 01:00

U2 BASS player Adam Clayton spoke yesterday of his “absolute astonishment” when it was discovered a total of €434,000 was spent by his former assistant on horses.

Mr Clayton told the trial of Carol Hawkins, the musician’s former PA accused of stealing almost €3 million from him, that he has “no interest in horses or gambling” so the money spent on horses was not for his benefit and he had no knowledge of this spending.

Ms Hawkins (48) 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 €2,869,274.

Earlier, the trial heard how Ms Hawkins and her former husband John had interests in up to 22 thoroughbred racehorses when they were on a joint salary of €48,000 while working for Mr Clayton.

Mr Clayton told prosecuting counsel Colm O’Briain he never owned a horse but was aware Ms Hawkins and her former husband had an interest in the equine world.

“I never owned a horse but many years ago I was invited to be part of a syndicate for a horse named after The Unforgettable Fire, a record by U2. But the horse ended up with a splint and never ran,” said Mr Clayton.

He told counsel he helped John Hawkins buy a horse and lent him €20,000 in 1995 or 1996 which as far as he knows was paid back.

“I’ve been lucky to follow my dreams so I lent him the money in the knowledge it would be paid back and I believe it was paid back,” said Mr Clayton.

He told counsel he was not told at the time the funding of over €434,000 for the Hawkins’s equine interests had come from his bank account.

“It was astonishing and revealed a whole side of Carol Hawkins I had never seen before,” he said.

Mr Clayton said he first met Ms Hawkins and her husband when they ran a hotel on a Caribbean island in 1992 and because of her extensive experience he employed her to run his house, Danesmoate, a Georgian property in Rathfarnham.

“I wanted someone to do the shopping, cooking and run my house while I was away,” he said. Ms Hawkins was promoted to his personal assistant and became responsible for signing cheques for his personal and household expenses.

He said he had “no knowledge” of Ms Hawkins purchasing an apartment in New York in April 2007 for €345,000, money she is alleged to have transferred from his bank account by cheque in his name, signed by her and lodged into her own bank account.

He said his reaction was one of “amazement” when it came to light Ms Hawkins owned a New York apartment.

“I had no idea Carol had that kind of financial resources,” he said.

He said he “did not consent” to any of the alleged 181 cheque payments to be made by Ms Hawkins to her personal, joint and credit card accounts.

He also said Ms Hawkins had permission to sign cheques on his behalf only for household expenses at Danesmoate and to sign cheques for payments recommended and approved by a steering group for the €15 million renovation works at the Rathfarnham house.

Under cross-examination by defence counsel Ken Fogarty SC, Mr Clayton disagreed that Ms Hawkins was responsible for purchasing all of the furnishing items for his home.

“I would buy things I wanted around me, Carol Hawkins bought the cornflakes,” said Mr Clayton.

He told defence counsel the “time frame” of the alleged charges makes no difference.

“I never sanctioned her to write cheques to herself. It’s my money,” he said.

The trial continues before Judge Patrick McCartan and a jury of seven men and five women, and is expected to last another four weeks.