Belfast Telegraph

Loyalist to wear tag after breaching bail conditions

By John Cassidy

Prominent loyalist Mark Harbinson was ordered to wear an electronic tag for breaching his bail and licensing conditions just one day after he was freed from prison.

The 50-year-old is currently awaiting trial accused of possession of a Makarov 9mm pistol and silencer in suspicious circumstances which were found at his Sheepwalk Road home in Stoneyford, Co Antrim in December 2015.

He is also charged with possessing the firearm, silencer and 28 rounds of 9mm ammunition without holding a firearms certificate, which were found in a biscuit tin during a police search of his home. He denies all the charges. Last Thursday, February 9, Harbinson was granted bail after spending a year in custody and was ordered to abide by a nightly curfew and report to police every day.

But at Belfast Crown Court yesterday, during a defence application to change his bail address, a prosecution lawyer told the judge who released Harbinson that the defendant had breached bail conditions within one day of being freed from jail.

He told the court that on Friday, February 10, Harbinson bought a mobile phone, which is a breach of a Sexual Offenders Prevention Order (SOPO).

The SOPO was imposed after he was convicted and jailed for sexually abusing a 13-year-old schoolgirl in October 2009.

The prosecution lawyer told Judge Geoffrey Miller QC: "It is clear he is showing a willingness to be in breach of his licence conditions.'' Outlining a further breach of the SOPO, the prosecutor said that as part of his bail conditions Harbinson was to live with his parents on the Stoneyford Road.

"This is straight across the road from a children's play park and he must have been aware of this and that this was in direct breach of his SOPO.''

Under the terms of the SOPO, Harbinson is not allowed to reside within 100 metres of a children's play park. The lawyer stated that as part of his bail conditions, he was required by police to sign his bail at a PSNI station at a "specified time''.

"Police called at his bail address at 2am on February 15. His mother answered the door. Mr Harbinson appeared fully clothed and asked the officer to remove himself from the house.

"He was told to sign bail the following day between 4pm and 5 pm but he said he wouldn't and signed it at 9.30 am.''

Saying that it was clear Harbinson was trying to set his own bail conditions, the prosecution lawyer said it was now for the court to decide on whether to have him electronically tagged or have his bail revoked.

Judge Miller QC said it was quite clear there was an "attitude'' in the case by Harbinson and it was "not for him to cherry pick and decide how bail conditions are to be met''.

After saying he considered revoking bail, the judge said he was going to grant the application to allow Harbinson to reside at his brother's house on the Stoneyford Road and he will also be electronically tagged.

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