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'Flight risk' gun charge loyalist Mark Harbinson granted bail

By Ashleigh McDonald

Prominent loyalist Mark Harbinson - who is facing trial later this year on firearms and ammunition offences - has been granted bail.

After spending over a year in custody, the 50-year old, from Sheepwalk Road, Lisburn, was released yesterday by a Crown Court judge who imposed stringent conditions - one of which is to have no contact with a male relative who the Crown believe helped him flee to England following the police search.

He was ordered to provide "personal bail" of £1,000, with an additional £4,000 cash surety provided by his parents.

Harbinson is standing trial this April on three offences linked to the discovery of a pistol, silencer and bullets in a biscuit tin found at his home.

He has been charged with possessing the .9mm Makarov pistol, a silencer and 28 rounds of .9 ammunition in suspicious circumstances on December 21, 2015.

He is also facing a charges of possessing both the firearm, and the ammunition, without holding a relevant firearms certificate.

He has denied all the offences levelled against him, while a charge of possessing the firearms and bullets with intent to endanger life was withdrawn last month.

Since his arrest in England in January 2016, Harbinson has made several unsuccessful applications for bail. The PSNI's main objection has been the risk of flight.

His barrister Mark Mulholland told Judge Geoffrey Miller QC that if released Harbinson would abide by any conditions imposed

When asked the Crown's position on his release, prosecutor Gareth Purvis said the "central issue" remained that of a risk of flight.

Harbinson was also ordered to abide by a 10pm to 8am curfew, and to report daily to the PSNI.

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