A former aide to U2 star Adam Clayton was yesterday jailed for seven years after embezzling almost €3m in what a judge labelled a crime “rooted in greed”.
Carol Hawkins siphoned his funds in pursuit of a lavish lifestyle that included racehorses, first class flights, a New York apartment and designer clothes.
The personal assistant, who had worked for the bassist for 17 years, was convicted on 181 counts of theft between 2004 and 2008, totalling €2.8m.
Clayton was not in the Circuit Criminal Court in Dublin as Judge Patrick McCartan said the case highlighted a significant breach of trust between the pair.
“Nothing, frankly, could explain away the scale of this dishonesty other than the greed in pursuit of a lavish lifestyle that was no responsibility of Mr Clayton’s,” the judge added.
Clayton will not be commenting on the sentence, his spokeswoman said.
Hawkins splashed the stolen cash on 22 racehorses, exotic holidays, limousine services and in designer boutiques in New York, such as Roberto Cavalli.
She bought a Volkswagen Golf for her son and paid for fashion and film courses for her children.
“These were crimes rooted in greed and nothing else,” Judge McCartan added.
“Whether she was a fool or clever person really matters very little.”
The mother-of-two was a signatory on two of Clayton’s bank accounts from which she wrote 181 separate cheques and deposited into her own personal bank account, a joint account with her then husband and a credit card account.
Her deception emerged when she confessed to her boss that she had booked herself up to €15,000 worth of flights on his account to visit her children living in London and New York, where she had also bought an apartment.
Hawkins, of Lower Rathmines Road in Dublin, was hired in 1992 as a housekeeper at Clayton’s Georgian mansion in Rathfarnham, south Dublin, but gained his trust over the years and was eventually appointed his PA.
Her former husband, John Hawkins, also worked as a casual driver and cook for the musician and the couple, who lived in Clayton’s home rent-free, were paid a joint salary of around €48,000.
After their split in around 2007, the musician continued to pay Hawkins the full salary.
But at the same time she was stealing from his accounts, and on one occasion cashed a cheque for €310,000.
Despite reams of technical evidence, including bank statements, Hawkins maintained her innocence throughout her three and a half week trial.
Judge McCartan said Hawkins felt entitled to the money she stole and that was a factor in the lengthy sentence.
He described the U2 star as a good boss who cared for the accused, who stared straight ahead and tried to contain her emotions as he made his ruling.
Even after her initial confession to Clayton, he was so concerned for her mental health he found her a therapist and kept her as an employee.
“Mr Clayton seems to this court from what has emerged from this case to be a good employer, a person who was capable of showing care and compassion, who gave the accused a second chance,” he added.
Judge McCartan made an order for funds raised through the sale of a New York apartment bought by Hawkins to go towards paying back some of the stolen money.
Defence barrister, senior counsel Ken Fogarty, had said Hawkins was not a devious woman and had no money “squirreled away” in Marbella for after her release.
He pointed out that Hawkins had no more than a high school education and that she intends to try to pay back the money.