Northern Ireland

Jury considers verdict in Mark Harbinson case

Mark Harbinson
Image caption Mark Harbinson has denied the sexual assault charges

The jury has been sent out to consider its verdict in the case of a prominent loyalist who is accused of sexually assaulting three schoolchildren.

Mark Harbinson, 44, from Sheepwalk Road in Stoneyford, County Antrim, is accused of assaulting two girls aged 13 and 14 and a 12-year-old boy.

He faces a total of 13 charges at Craigavon Crown Court.

Mr Harbinson has described the assault allegations as a "monstrous catalogue of lies".

In his summing up, the judge reminded the jury how topless photographs of one of the girls were found on a mobile phone owned by Mr Harbinson.

However, the loyalist has insisted these were sent to him by the girl without invitation and that he wrongly believed he had deleted them.

The prosecution alleged that the accused had a relationship with the girl which they described as "intense and sexual" lasting some eight months.

She was in his car when he was arrested in October 2009 and the jury was told the pair had exchanged almost 1800 text messages.

However, the leading bandsman said his relationship with the girl was nothing more than friendly.