Judgment reserved in Mark Harbinson gun trial

Judgment was reserved in Mark Harbinson case

JUDGMENT has been reserved in the case of loyalist Mark Harbinson following a three-day trial on firearms charges.

Belfast Crown Court judge Gordon Kerr QC told the non-jury trial said that after listening to the both the prosecution case against Harbinson and the accused's defence, he was reserving judgment and would give his ruling at the start of July.

Harbinson (51) was released on continuing bail.

During the trial, a prosecuting barrister said it was the Crown's case that Harbinson was guilty of three charges arising from the search of his then home at Sheepwalk Road in Lisburn, when a Makarov-type pistol was found in a red plastic Family Circle biscuit box.

The search was conducted on Monday December 21, 2015 - in Harbinson's absence - and the biscuit box was located in a woodshed in one of the outbuildings at the rural premises.

The handgun was not working and was rusted, component parts were either broken or missing, and when it underwent a forensic examination, a decision was taken not to fire the weapon due to its poor condition.

Harbinson, from Stoneyford Road in Lisburn, has been charged with, and denies, three offences arising from the search - namely possessing the pistol, silencer and 28 rounds of ammunition in suspicious circumstances, and possessing both the handgun, and the ammunition, without holding a Firearms Certificate.

His fingerprints were located on both the inside and outside of the biscuit box. When he gave evidence, the former Orangeman and UDR soldier said that, while there was no doubt he handled the biscuit box, he had no knowledge of its contents.

Denying any knowledge about the presence of the gun, silencer and ammunition, Harbinson - who was arrested in England ten days after the search and returned to Northern Ireland - made the case that he had been set up.

He told the court he had a "firm suspicion" that the items were planted in the outbuilding he used to house timber, and denied suggestions the items were his.

Saying he would give his ruling on the trial on either July 2 or 3, Judge Kerr agreed to release Harbinson on continuing bail.

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