Clayton's former assistant jailed

 

U2 bass player Adam Clayton’s former assistant Carol Hawkins has been sentenced to seven years in prison for defrauding the musician of more than €2.8 million.

Mrs Hawkins (48), with an address at Upper Rathmines Rd, Dublin, was unanimously convicted by a jury last week of 181 accounts of theft from Mr Clayton’s bank account between 2004 and 2008.

Sentencing the mother-of-two grown-up children, Circuit Criminal Court Judge Patrick McCartan dismissed her arguments that she was entitled to the money. He told her: “Nothing frankly could explain away the scale of this dishonesty other than greed and the pursuit of a lavish lifestyle.”

Mr Clayton was not in court for sentencing.

He said only a “small fraction” of the money that Mrs Hawkins had stolen could be said to be of benefit to Mr Clayton as she claimed.

He said it was “ridiculous” and an “absurdity” to suggest that if she bought a pair of shoes and wore them to the shop to buy a newspaper for Mr Clayton that the shoes were of benefit to the musician.

During the sentencing hearing, her defence counsel Ken Fogarty said there were things that Mrs Hawkins could have raised during the trial but was prevented to do so by the confidentiality agreement she had with Mr Clayton.

Mr Fogarty said there were a “significant area of very private issues” that were not gone into during the trial. “In other words, extraneous matters that may have been of interest to a puerile mind”.

Judge McCartan said he rejected that proposition “flatly” and described it as both “mischievous” and “disingenuous in the extreme”. If she had other evidence it should have been brought up during the trial.

The judge also said that the impact of the case and the publicity would have a considerable bearing on her future, but she had only herself to blame for persisting in the belief that she was innocent and for her stubbornness as exhibited during the trial.

He also rejected her contention that she was at Mr Clayton’s beck and call 24/7 pointing out that the U2 bass player was away for the equivalent of four of the five years she had been stealing money out of his account.

He also rejected her belief that she was entitled to spend the money as nobody had stopped her. The accused was not a neophyte, the judge said, she had previously run a small hotel establishment.

“The scale of the spending, to cover up what she did and ultimately to lie directly to Mr Clayton about what she had done indicated that she knew she wasn’t entitled to do what she did,” the judge said.

The thefts totalled €2,862,567 and the jury reached an unanimous verdict after 18 days of trial

The trial heard Hawkins was a “trusted employee” of Mr Clayton who betrayed his trust when she started to write cheques from his bank accounts in her name and lodging them into her personal, joint and credit card accounts.

The case was described by prosecution counsel as a “grubby tale of prolonged, repeated and pernicious fraud and gross mistrust”.

The 18-day trial heard from 20 witnesses, including Mr Clayton, bank officials, accountants and gardaí.

The court heard that Hawkins had misappropriated funds from the U2 bass guitarist’s accounts and spent the money on buying and maintaining 22 thoroughbred racehorses, a €310,000 New York apartment, holidays and shopping sprees.

She also spent €1.4 million on her credit card, funded from Mr Clayton’s accounts, over the four years.