| 8.8°C Belfast

Man accused of forcing son and wife to leave home over her religion granted bail

A Belfast man accused of forcing his son and Catholic daughter-in-law to flee their home amid threats to burn it down has been granted High Court bail.

Releasing Colin Harbinson from custody today, a judge banned him from trying to make any contact with either alleged victim.

The 44-year-old defendant, of Woodvale Road in the city, is charged with threats to destroy or damage property, and intimidating the couple out of their Housing Executive property by threats or menaces.

His daughter-in-law has claimed he doesn't like her because she is a Catholic, prosecutors said.

Harbinson was arrested after police went to the house on September 30.

The court heard he had allegedly threatened to assault the couple and burn down their house in a phone call to the woman.

He also allegedly demanded to know where they were living and, despite the woman refusing to tell him, turned up at the address less than two hours later.

The couple left the property with their child later that evening.

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

His legal team insisted the case has nothing to do with religion and rejected claims threats were issued.

Defence barrister Richard McConkey argued that as his client does not know where the couple are now living there was no chance of any contact.

It was also disclosed in court that both alleged victims have made withdrawal statements.

Despite this, police are still proceeding with the case at this stage.

Granting bail, Mr Justice Horner ordered the defendant to keep away from his son and daughter-in-law.

He also imposed a curfew and told Harbinson to report to police three times a week.

Belfast Telegraph