June 22, 2012
"She had my absolute trust" ... Adam Clayton. Photo: Getty Images
U2 star Adam Clayton placed his absolute trust in a former personal assistant accused of stealing 2.8 million euro ($3.5 million) from him, a court has heard.
The bassist revealed he was so concerned for Carol Hawkins's welfare when she confessed to taking more than 13,000 euro from him that he found her a therapist because she claimed to be suicidal.
His former employee denies 181 counts of stealing cheques from him between 2004 and 2008.
Giving evidence against the 48-year-old defendant at her trial on Thursday, Clayton claimed he was in court because he trusted people.
"She had my absolute trust," he told the Circuit Criminal Court in Dublin on Thursday.
"We had been together a long time; working together. She had been very conscientious. I felt she looked after my money and on many occasions accused others of being greedy, so I was extremely surprised."
Hawkins, a mother-of-two who worked for the musician for 17 years, listened attentively as Clayton, dressed in a navy jacket and grey shirt, was grilled about their working relationship and his bank details.
The defendant was a signatory on two of his bank accounts from which it is alleged she wrote 181 cheques and lodged into her own account, as well as a joint account with her then husband John Hawkins and a credit card account.
The funds bought 22 horses, with more than 400,000 euro in cash listed as horse and horse expenditure, while thousands of euro were spent on exotic holidays and in designer boutiques in New York, such as Roberto Cavalli, the court heard.
Hawkins also bought a Volkswagen Golf for her son Joe, it was claimed, and paid for fashion and film courses which Clayton suggested may have been for her son and daughter.
The alleged deception emerged in 2008 when she confessed to booking herself between 13,000 euro and 15,000 euro-worth of flights on his account to visit her children in the US and London, the rock star told the jury of seven men and five women.
"She also mentioned that she had been suicidal and had taken an overdose," he told the packed courtroom.
"I was concerned for her health and recommended she see a therapist. I got her a therapist locally.
"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."
Clayton said he removed Hawkins, who worked for him since 1992, as a signatory to his accounts but kept her as an employee until 2009.
She had carried out her duties "efficiently and well" when she worked for him, he said, adding that he only ever hired people capable of doing their job to look after his affairs.
"I trusted people and that's why we're here today," he said.