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Loyalist Mark Harbinson in court charged with firearm offences

By Paul Higgins

Published 02/01/2016

Mark Harbinson
Mark Harbinson

Prominent loyalist Mark Harbinson has been remanded into custody after being charged with firearm offences.

Standing in the dock of Lisburn Magistrates Court wearing a blue jumper and jeans 48-year-old Harbinson, from the Sheepwalk Road in Lisburn, was accused of having a Makarov 9mm semi automatic pistol, 28 rounds of suitable ammunition and a silencer with intent to endanger life "on a date unknown prior to December 21, 2015."

Giving evidence to the court, Detective Sergeant Cush said he believed he could connect Harbinson to the offences and that police were objecting to bail amid fears that he posed a serious risk of flight.

The officer from the serious crime branch of the PSNI described how, acting on information, police searched Harbinson's home under the terrorism act on December 21 last year, discovering the disassembled weapon, bullets and the working silencer hidden in a family circle tin of biscuits in an out building.

He recounted how Harbinson himself was not present during the extensive search but that his father and uncle, who attended the farm during it, told Harbinson cops were searching his home, leading him to flee the country, firstly to the Republic and then to Cumbria.

Initially, there had been a "tentative arrangement" for Harbinson to hand himself in the following day but he failed to appear at Musgrave Street station and DS Cush told the court how colleagues spotted Harbinson's car on the motorway but it sped off when the driver spotted the police.

Refusing bail, District Judge Amanda Henderson said she had "real concerns" that Harbinson would again flee the jurisdiction given that he had "immediate access to a passport, stash of clothing and a large sum of money" and had "immediately went on the run" when he discovered that police were searching his home.

Harbinson was remanded into custody to appear again on January 25 by videolink.

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