Belfast Telegraph

Loyalist Harbinson fined for painting road signs red, white and blue

By Allan Preston

Prominent loyalist Mark Harbinson has been found guilty of causing criminal damage to road signs by painting them red, white and blue.

Harbinson (49), from Sheepwalk Road in Lisburn, is also facing separate weapons charges.

Yesterday in Lisburn Magistrates Court District Judge Amanda Brady found Harbinson guilty of two counts of criminal damage between September 11 and 15 in 2015.

She fined him £150 for each count, but as he remains in custody on other charges the fines are to be served out by no more than seven days each in custody.

As the verdict was delivered Harbinson sat in the dock in jeans and a grey T-shirt.

Judge Brady rejected claims from the defence Harbinson had been overcharged with criminal damage, when a lesser road traffic offences charge would have sufficed. She added that Harbinson had made himself known when police attended the scene of the damage.

Addressing Harbinson's defence lawyer, she said: "Is it not the case that when the police were at the location, the defendant appeared and said: 'Is it me you're looking for?'

"They looked in the vehicle and there was the red, white and blue paint."

Concluding, Judge Brady added: "I'm satisfied that Mr Harbinson did indeed commit criminal damage on the dates set out in the two summonses."

Harbinson remains charged with a number of other more serious offences. They include charges of possessing a firearm and ammunition in suspicious circumstances as well as possessing a pistol and ammunition without a certificate.

In January a further charge of possessing a firearm with intent to endanger life was dropped at Belfast Crown Court.

In November last year a High Court application for bail was refused. A judge was told during the hearing he had previously fled to England for 10 days after police had searched his Co Antrim home on December 21, 2015, finding the gun and ammunition.

The items were discovered by police in a biscuit tin in the rafters of a barn beside the property.

A shebeen-style drinking den was also said to contain items associated with the Orange Volunteers, including a banner for the banned terror group.

At the time Harbinson denied possession of the firearm, 28 rounds of ammunition and a silencer with intent to endanger life.

Following the discovery Harbinson fled to England to stay with friends in Cumbria. The PSNI launched a joint operation with Cumbria Police to arrest him and he was eventually detained 12 miles from the property.

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