Loyalist Mark Harbinson to represent himself in Belfast weapons trial
Prominent loyalist Mark Harbinson is to stand trial later this year on weapons and ammunition charges.
The 51-year-old, of Stoneyford Road, Lisburn, Co Antrim, is representing himself after dismissing his previous legal team.
He denies charges of possessing a 9mm pistol, silencer and 28 rounds of ammunition in suspicious circumstances.
The former Drumcreee protestor also denies charges of having the Makarov handgun and ammunition without a certificate. The prosecution had previously withdrawn a charge of having a firearm with intent to endanger life.
At Belfast Crown Court on Friday, Harbinson confirmed to Belfast Recorder Judge David McFarland that he had received the papers in the case from his former instructing solicitor.
Asked had he read the papers in the case, Harbinson, who was standing in the body of the court aided by a single crutch, replied: "No.''
Judge McFarland said he had read a number of letters Harbinson had previously handed into court regarding issues surrounding legal aid and his current medical condition.
He said he was not prepared to granted legal aid in the case, adding: "If you are not happy you can go and see a solicitor and make a new application for legal aid and I wlll consider that application.''
The Belfast Recorder said that he would allow the defendant some time to read the papers in the case and set the non-jury trial date for Monday, June 4, 2018. The trial is expected to last four weeks.
No details were given in court today about the background to the charges.
However, during a previous bail hearing a judge was told Harbinson fled to England after a gun and ammunition were found at his Co Antrim home.
The court was told the semi-automatic pistol, silencer and bullets were found during searches at his then Sheepwalk Road address in Stoneyford on December 21, 2015.
Police found them inside a biscuit tin in the rafters of a barn beside the property.
A shebeen-style drinking bar was said to contain items associated with the Orange Volunteers, including a banner for the proscribed loyalist grouping.
Harbinson was later released on bail, which included electronic tagging. However, last November a judge at Belfast Crown Court agreed to remove the tagging as part of a relaxation in his bail conditions because of delays in getting his case to trial.
Belfast Telegraph Digital