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Loyalist Mark Harbinson fails to have bail conditions eased in the run-up to trial on firearms offences

Mark Harbinson. Picture by Pacemaker Press

Prominent loyalist Mark Harbinson failed in his bid today to have his bail conditions eased in the run-up to his trial next month on firearms offences.

Rejecting the application Belfast Recorder Judge David McFarland told defence barrister Tom McCreanor he was "not impressed" by 50-year-old Harbinson's attempt to vary his bail conditions given the free time
available to him.

Initially the Crown Court judge heard that Harbinson was no longer applying to have his bail conditions relaxed to attend a football match this coming week-end.

Having asked if the match had been called off, Mr McCreanor said it had been switched from the Saturday to the Sunday and that Harbinson no longer wished to attend the game.

However, Mr McCreanor then asked for Harbinson's bail conditions, which includes signing on with police three days per week, and a 11pm to 7am curfew to be relaxed prior to his trial.

Mr McCreanor said his original, stricter, bail conditions were varied back in June when his trial was unable to proceed at that time, and now would apply for the signing on condtion be varied.

"Why is that onerous?" asked The Recorder, to which the defence lawyer replied that it "does require him to be available at those times", to sign his bail.

However, when Mr McCreanor reveled that Harbinson is not working, Judge McFarland said in the those circumstances, "if he is not working he has nothing to do and can go down to the police station and sign on", adding that he was "not impressed" by his application.

He is due to go on trial at Belfast Crown Court on three firearms offences linked to the discovery of a pistol, silencer and bullets in a biscuit tin, uncovered in outbuildings at his Sheepwalk Road home on outskirts of Lisburn on December 21 2015.

Later cleared of possessing the 9mm Makarov type pistol, a silencer and 28 rounds of 9mm ammunition   with intent to endanger life, the leading loyalist is still accused, and denies having them under suspicious cirumstances, and without holding the relevant Firearms Certificates.

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