Director of Public Prosecutions -v- Hawkins, [2014] IECCA 38 (2014)

Docket Number:342/12
Party Name:Director of Public Prosecutions, Hawkins
Judge:Charleton J.
 
FREE EXCERPT

An Chúirt Achomhairc Choiriúil

The Court of Criminal Appeal

Bill number 0321DU of 2011

Appeal number 342 of 2012

Charleton J

Moriarty J

Kelly J

In the matter of section 63 of the Courts of Justice Act 1924

Between/

The People (at the suit of the Director of Public Prosecutions)Prosecutor/Respondent

and

Carol HawkinsAccused/Appellant

Judgment of the Court delivered by Mr Justice Charleton on the 29th day of October 2014

  1. After an 18 day trial, the appellant was found guilty by a jury in the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court of 181 counts of theft of cheques having a value of €2.8 million approximately between 2006 and 2008. On the 6 July 2012 she was sentenced to seven years imprisonment in respect of these offences by the trial judge, His Honour Judge McCartan. She now appeals against that conviction. The statement of offence in each count was alleged to be theft contrary to s.4 of the Criminal Justice (Theft and Fraud Offences) Act 2001. As a sample, the particulars of offence as stated in count number 49 operate as a template for all of the other counts in the indictment. This reads:

    Carol Hawkins did, on or about the 21st day of March 2007 in the County of the City of Dublin, did steal property, to wit, Bank of Ireland cheque number 000963, drawn on bank account number [redacted] in the name of ‘Adam Clayton Fitzwilliam Account’ drawn in favour of J. Hawkins in the amount of €21,748.16, the property of Adam Clayton.

    Grounds of Appeal

  2. Each ground of appeal will be dealt with separately. In summary it has been comprehensively argued on behalf of the appellant:

    1. That inadequate disclosure was made by the prosecution in the context of the burden being faced by the defence in testing the evidence adduced in support of the charges;

    2. That the main prosecution witness was allowed to hear other prosecution evidence prior to giving his own testimony and should have been excluded from court and in addition that leading questions were asked of him;

    3. That the production orders necessary to inquire into and adduce evidence of the appellant’s bank accounts was improperly obtained;

    4. That an admission of other wrongdoing made by the appellant to the main prosecution witness, her employer, had been improperly admitted;

    5. That a direction should have been granted at the end of the prosecution case because the chain of evidence in respect of the documentary exhibits supporting the charges had not been properly proven;

    6. That the charge is not properly founded in law as fitting the facts alleged; and

    7. That there was no sufficient evidence to put before the jury and that the conviction is therefore unsafe.

    Background

  3. The main prosecution witness in this case, and the victim of the thefts, is a musician called Adam Clayton.

  4. In 1992, Adam Clayton was on holiday over the Christmas vacation and visited an island in the Caribbean. There, he stayed at a resort that consisted of an island with about a dozen cottages on it. The people running the hotel were the appellant Carol Hawkins and her husband John Hawkins. At that time, they had two young children. Falling into conversation with them, it became apparent that they wished to return from the Caribbean and to live somewhere in Europe so that they could bring up their children, and, in particular, find an appropriate place to educate them. Adam Clayton lived on his own at a house in the Rathfarnham area of south Dublin. Because he was doing so much touring with the band U2, he habitually found that on his return he might have failed to pay bills for such things as electricity or telephone and that his house would be cold, cut off from its heating supply, or that the telephone would not work because it had been taken off service. After thinking about it for some time, he decided to employ the Hawkins couple; the appellant to act as his housekeeper, and her husband because of his experience as a chef, to prepare meals occasionally if he had people to dinner and to drive him to the airport the odd time. Over several years, the services which they gave were regarded by him as highly satisfactory. They lived in an annex separate to his house. In the early days, while he was travelling away, he would sign cheques to cover the costs of various household expenses. Eventually, this was seen by him as him as impractical. In consequence, the appellant was given signing rights on two sets of accounts on dates between 2000 and 2008. One of these was called the Danesmoate Farm’s account, and the other was called the Fitzwilliam account. The Danesmoate Farm’s account had a credit card attached to it, which the appellant also had the use of, and a laser card was attached to the Fitzwilliam account which the appellant was also entitled to use. Of the 181 counts in the indictment, 84 were in respect of the Danesmoate Farm’s account and 97 were in respect of the Fitzwilliam account. No charges were brought in respect of the credit card or laser card associated with either account. Instead, every count was in respect of the theft of a cheque. Adam Clayton had a management company which ran all of his touring, studio dates and recording negotiations and the collection of royalties. He employed two accountants in turn, and their job was to oversee his accounts and expenditure. As time went on the appellant was given extra responsibilities beyond her work as housekeeper including such personal arrangements as booking flights and discharging other consequential outgoings of Adam Clayton. She was also required to take care of the household bookkeeping. His accountant at the relevant time provided her with the software for a computer programme called QuickBooks. Of the cheques in question in the indictment, the vast majority of these were not entered onto this system. One hundred and seventy-seven of the cheques out of the 181 charged in the indictment had no entry made in respect of them. The cheque stubs were analysed. Out of the 181 cheque stubs, the appellant was noted as the payee of one cheque, but no amount was noted. A further 18 cheque stubs had no noted payees. Four stubs noted the payees, one of which was false, one was illegible and two related to Bank of Ireland credit card services.

  5. Adam Clayton was adamant in his evidence that the only authority which the appellant had to sign cheques on his two accounts was in respect of his household expenses and such personal outgoings as she was directed to pay on his behalf. The appellant and her husband were paid approximately €4,000 per month for discharging their duties.

  6. Nonetheless, the prosecution proved that other expenditures had been made. Much of it was most unusual. One of the exhibits produced was an insurance schedule from a firm called Sean Barrett, Bloodstock Insurances Limited. As of 11th November, 2005 this listed a schedule of 22 horses that were insured under a bloodstock schedule called Plato Racing. The horses included Javana, valued at €10,000; Academie Royale, valued at €10,000; One Great Lady, valued at €30,000, Let’s Dance, valued at €10,000; Ionizer, valued at €10,000; Royal Opera, valued at €10,000; Manipulator, valued at €39,000; Madam Mosaic, valued at €5,000; Cheonmado, valued at €20,000; Valour Lady, valued at €10,000. Other unnamed fillies were in training, including one valued at €51,000. A forensic examination of the bank accounts of the appellant over the relevant period showed horse racing expenditure at €434,000, credit card payments of €172,000, transfers to a family member of €48,000, the purchase of a car for €21,000, fees to the New York Film Academy of €22,000, transfers to another family member of €19,000 and rent on a New York apartment of €17,000. In addition, an account held by the appellant jointly with another family member showed the purchase of an apartment in New York for €350,000, credit card payments of €104,000, cash withdrawals of €97,000, various other horse racing expenditure of €95,000, travel expenses of €36,000 as well as other sums paid. An analysis of the average annual credit card expenditure during the relevant period established a figure of €304,000. This included department store spending of €330,000 and spending in restaurants and hotels of €225,000 with €153,000 expended on airline tickets. In addition there were cash withdrawals by way of the appellant’s personal credit card of €64,000. The sums have been rounded down to the nearest thousand.

  7. One of the duties of the appellant was to pay the travelling expenses of Adam Clayton. The flights were booked by her through a firm called Travel Care and the invoices would be sent to the appellant for payment. Nothing was noticed of the extraordinary expenditure going on through Adam Clayton’s two accounts. His life was entirely devoted to his musical pursuits and touring. He left the management of his band in the hands of his firm and his household and some of his personal expenditure in the hands of the appellant. In 2008 Adam Clayton became worried that a particular payment in respect of his legitimate expenses had not gone through. His concern was whether a creditor had been paid. He checked this with his accountant. His accountant checked the matter with the appellant. Both were chasing through whatever records existed in order to attempt to assure Adam Clayton that the relevant, and relatively small, debt had been discharged. As he described it in evidence, there was some tension around this payment. The appellant then contacted him and asked to meet up. As he was abroad on work, she flew to Nice, in the south of France, and met him in the Radisson Hotel. This is how Adam Clayton’s evidence emerged at the trial:

    She essentially confessed that she had been booking herself flights to visit her children on my account at Travel Care... [S]he also mentioned that she had been suicidal and had taken an overdose.… I was concerned for her health and recommended that she see a therapist and I, in fact, got her the...

To continue reading

REQUEST YOUR TRIAL