I trusted people, and that’s why we’re here today
U2 star Adam Clayton expressed his “absolute astonishment” when it was discovered a total of €434,000 was spent by Carol Hawkins on horses and horse expenditure, a court heard yesterday.
Mr Clayton told the trial of Carol Hawkins, his ex-PA accused of stealing almost €3 million from him, that he has “no interest in horses or gambling” and he had no knowledge of this spending.
Taking the stand, the bassist joked he wasn’t used to being in front of a microphone. He said: “I’m more of a ‘dum, dum, dum’, but I will practise my technique.”
Hawkins (48), of Lower Rathmines Road, Dublin, has pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to 181 counts of theft totalling €2,869,274 from two of Mr Clayton’s Bank of Ireland accounts over between 2004 and 2008. Earlier the trial heard how Hawkins and her former husband John owned up to 22 thoroughbred race horses while they were on a joint salary of €48,000 when they worked for Mr Clayton.
The rocker 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,” Mr Clayton said.
He told counsel he was not told at the time that the funding of over €434,000 for the Hawkins’ equine interests had come from his bank account. He said: “It was astonishing and revealed a whole side of Carol Hawkins I’d never seen before.” The alleged deception emerged in 2008 when Hawkins admitted booking herself between €13,000 and €15,000 worth of flights on his account to visit her children in the US and London, Mr Clayton claimed.
“She also mentioned that she had been suicidal and had taken an overdose,” he told the court. “I was concerned for her health and recommended she see a therapist. In the matter of the money, I accepted she was a distressed woman. Her marriage broke up, her children had gone away.
“I said we would have to verify the amounts she had been claiming.” Mr Clayton said he was a musician and a creative person and didn’t look at the fine details of his finances, and added: “I don’t even have a Leaving Cert.” When asked whether he stayed in some of the hotels listed in Hawkins’ credit card statement — such as the Trump International or the Ritz Carlton in New York — Mr Clayton said he had not.
Mr Clayton also said he had never flown Ryanair or Easyjet and if these transactions had been drawn to his attention at the time, his reaction would have been one of horror. He told the court he first met Hawkins and her husband when they ran a hotel in the Caribbean in 1992 and due to her extensive experience he hired her to run his house in Rathfarnham, Dublin.
“I trusted people, and that’s why we’re here today,” he said. “I wanted someone to do the shopping, cooking and run my house while I was away.” Hawkins was promoted to Mr Clayton’s Personal Assistant and became responsible for signing cheques for his personal and household expenses.
Mr Clayton said he had “no knowledge” of Hawkins purchasing an apartment in New York in April 2007 for €345,000. He said his reaction was one of “amazement” when it came to light that she owned a New York apartment, saying: “I had no idea Carol had that kind of financial recourses.”
He added he “did not consent” to any of the alleged 181 cheque payments to be made by Hawkins to her personal, joint and credit card accounts. Under cross-examining by defence, Mr Clayton disagreed that 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,” he said. The trial continues.