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U2 bassist's ex-aide guilty of stealing millions

An Irish jury unanimously found a former aide to U2 bassist Adam Clayton guilty of embezzlement Friday after she spent more than €2.8 million ($3.6 million) of the musician's savings on 22 thoroughbred horses, pricey plane tickets and other indulgences for herself and her family.

Carol Hawkins, 48, sat impassively as each of the 181 guilty verdicts was read out in Dublin Criminal Court. She made no comment. Her lawyers, who called no witnesses during the three-week trial, said she was still protesting her innocence.

Judge Patrick McCartan granted Hawkins bail pending her sentencing July 6. Addressing the jurors, he said: "The evidence in this case was overwhelming. Nobody could seriously disagree with the verdict you have given."

Outside the courthouse, Clayton, 52, shook jurors' hands and issued a prepared statement thanking the police for their work and his family, friends and U2 colleagues for their support.

Hawkins had claimed that Clayton either authorized her expenditures — including several foreign trips, the horses, a new car and university courses for her two children — or that she had paid him back by using her own money to pay his bills.

But Clayton testified he'd known nothing about Hawkins' four-year spending spree and had given her access to his bank accounts purely so she could pay bills related to his Georgian mansion, Danesmoate, in south Dublin.

"The fact is she wrote checks from my accounts and put them in her accounts. She was using my accounts to pay her bills," Clayton testified last week.

And they included some eye-popping bills. The jury of five women and seven men heard a travel agent testify this week that Hawkins booked one flight for her husband to Miami that cost €19,285.08 ($24,420) and another for herself to London and Cincinnati, Ohio, that cost €16,139.66 ($20,438).

Clayton testified that he was stunned to discover that Hawkins spent €434,000 ($550,000) on acquiring 22 racehorses, saying he had no interest in horses or gambling.

"It was astonishing and revealed a whole side of Carol Hawkins I'd never seen before," he said June 21.

Clayton said he first met Hawkins in 1992 when she and her husband were managing a Caribbean island hotel. He recruited her, he said, "to do the shopping, cooking and run my house while I was away." He paid her a €48,000 ($61,000) annual salary.

Hawkins worked for him for nearly 17 years, initially as a maid and cook, until he discovered her spending spree in 2008.