U2 star's former PA jailed for seven years

U2 star Adam Clayton's former personal assistant has today been sentenced to seven years in prison for the embezzlement of €2.8m of his money.

Carol Hawkins was last week convicted on 181 counts of theft from the bassist's bank accounts over a four-year period.

Clayton was not in court as the 48-year-old was led away by prison guards. She stared straight ahead as Judge Patrick McCartan delivered the sentence, trying to contain her emotions.

"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," said Judge McCartan.

He said the fact Ms Hawkins maintained her innocence throughout the trial was a factor in his sentencing and suggested if given an opportunity to commit a similar crime in the future, he was not entirely confident she would resist.

"These were crimes rooted in greed and nothing else," he said.

"Whether she was a fool or clever person really matters very little."

Judge McCartan said Hawkins believed she was entitled to the money she stole and criticised her attitude throughout the trial.

He said she contested the evidence and persisted in a "false belief in innocence" despite the fact a jury of her peers found her to be guilty.

The judge described U2 star Clayton as a good employer who showed Hawkins care and compassion.

He said her crime therefore represented a significant breach of trust.

"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 also 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 €2.8m she stole.

During the trial at the Circuit Criminal Court in Dublin, a jury of seven men and five women heard how Hawkins, of Lower Rathmines Road, Dublin had gained Clayton's "absolute trust".

The mother-of-two was a signatory on two of his bank accounts from which she wrote 181 cheques and deposited into her own personal bank account, a joint account with her then husband and a credit card account.

The transactions dated from 2004 to 2008 when her deception emerged after she confessed to booking herself around €15,000 worth of flights on Clayton's account to visit her children living in London and New York.

Investigations later revealed she splashed cash on 22 racehorses, exotic holidays, limousine services and in designer boutiques in New York, such as Roberto Cavalli.

Elsewhere, a Volkswagen Golf was purchased for her son Joe, while the rock star's money paid for fashion and film courses for her children.

Hawkins was originally employed from 1992 as a housekeeper at Clayton's Rathfarnham mansion, in south Dublin.

Having gained his trust over the years, she was eventually appointed his PA and was responsible for some of his bookkeeping.

Her former husband John Hawkins also worked as a casual driver and cook for the U2 bassist.

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.

He also found her a therapist when she claimed to be suicidal after the separation and told the court while giving evidence that he had been concerned for her health.

No defence was given during the trial and lawyers for Hawkins, told the court she still maintained her innocence - even after her conviction.

They denied she had taken the money between 2004 and 2008, instead arguing that she sometimes used her own credit card to purchase items for his benefit to keep his card in credit.

Defence barrister, senior counsel Ken Fogarty, had said she was not a devious woman and had no money "squirrelled away" in Marbella for after her release.

He pointed out that Hawkins had no more than a school education and that she intends to try to pay back the money.

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