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Man accused of threatening to burn down his son's home 'hates his wife because she's Catholic', court hears

Published 01/10/2015

The couple left the property with their child on Wednesday night
The couple left the property with their child on Wednesday night

A Belfast man was remanded into custody today accused of forcing his son and daughter-in-law to flee their home amid threats to burn it down.

Forty-four-year-old Colin Harbinson allegedly dislikes the woman because she is a Catholic, a judge was told.

The defendant, of Woodvale Road in the city, appeared before Belfast Magistrates' Court charged with threats to destroy or damage property, and intimidating the couple out of their Housing Executive property by threats or menaces.

He was arrested after police were called to the scene on Wednesday afternoon.

Opposing bail, a detective claimed Harbinson could interfere with either the witnesses or the course of justice.

He confirmed the alleged victims are a son and daughter-in-law of the accused. 

Harbinson had threatened to assault the couple and burn down their house in a phone call to the woman, it was claimed.

According to the detective he also demanded to know where they were living.

Despite the woman refusing to tell him, he allegedly arrived at the address less than two hours later.

"(The woman) has stated she believes the father-in-law doesn't like her because she's a Catholic," the detective said.

"She stated that during the phone call he was irate and abusive."

Due to their fear at the alleged threats the couple left the property with their child on Wednesday night, the court heard.

Harbinson denies the charges or any form of intimidation. In interview he insisted he was only trying to sort out family matters.

But the investigating detective claimed: "Police believe he would have the capability and know-how to carry out such threats.

"The suspect managed to find out the injured parties' address within the space of an hour and a half.

"The injured parties have (now) fled their home in fear."

Defence barrister Richard McConkey said his client was contesting the allegations and should be entitled to bail.

"This is a matter that was sparked by a family background," the lawyer added.

"His case is he was contacting family members in relation to his grandchild."

But denying bail, District Judge George Conner ruled there was a risk of interference with witnesses.

He said: "This is a very serious matter whereby, as a result of what is alleged, the persons named in the complaint felt compelled to move house after a very determined effort to find them."

Harbinson was remanded in custody to appear again by video-link on October 29.

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