A prolific pimp who preyed on vulnerable women, coercing many of them into prostitution and forcing them to have unprotected sex with him and 'customers', is set to be released imminently.
Martin Heaney - dubbed 'Mucky Marty' because of his vile behaviour - was handed a five-year sentence on Wednesday morning.
However, with an order for the sentence to be served half in jail and half on licence, Heaney (59) will be set free within hours as he has already served more than the equivalent waiting for his case to progress.
Heaney was handed a Slavery and Trafficking Prevention Order. This places numerous restrictions on him for the next seven years including where he lives, what work he does, who he can socialise with and what devices he can have such, as mobile phones or laptops.
Jailing the Co Down man at Craigavon Crown Court, sitting in Belfast and with several of the victims watching proceedings by videolink, Judge Patrick Lynch QC said it was clear that Heaney “was using women, many of whom were extremely vulnerable whether through young age, mental health difficulties, drug misuse or general deprivation.”
“They’re often unfortunate members of our society that the defendant in essence preyed upon for the purpose of his own sexual gratification and for the purpose of making money,” said the judge.
Judge Lynch revealed that when one of the victims fell pregnant, Heaney not only kept her working as a prostitute but also used her pregnancy as a “selling point” for customers.
As long ago as last November, former taxi and bus driver Heaney, with an address at Maypole Park in Dromore but currently residing at HMP Maghaberry, entered guilty pleas.
He admitted ten counts of controlling the prostitution of ten women “in expectation of gain for yourself,” ten counts of human trafficking females in that he “arranged or facilitated the travel” of ten women “with a view to them being exploited” and seven charges of voyeurism by “recording another person doing a private act for the purpose of sexual gratification and knowing they did not consent to being recorded.”
Heaney also admitted single counts of inciting a female to become a prostitute and acquiring criminal property “namely cash and money transfers”.
All of the offences were committed over more than eight years between 1 June 2011 and 30 September 2019.
When the case was opened by prosecuting QC David McDowell a few weeks ago, he said it was “apparent that a number of common features exist between the stories of the women,” describing how the women under Heaney’s control had to have unprotected sex with him and multiple customers, often more than one a night. Unknown to them, Heaney would record them having sex.
It was when those videos were uncovered when Heaney was arrested in September 2019 that many of the victims were identified by detectives.
“While some were willing prostitutes, a number of the women had wished to engage only in dancing and stripping but were turned eventually to prostitution,” said the senior barrister, explaining how “many of them were young, some just 18 and most if not all, were from difficult circumstances, often living in temporary accommodation and some of them had drug habits.”
The court heard how Heaney was in charge of advertising, using photographs he had taken himself and many times, he held the phone attributable to each woman, taking the calls, arranging the appointments, “liaising with customers and taking them into his trust.”
Frequently making the women use multiple names and profiles to increase business and profit, “he drove them to appointments with customers on both sides of the border.”
“He would also take them to his house in Dromore to have sex with customers and some, he would take to a ‘sex cinema’ in Dublin where they would have sex with more than one man,” revealed Mr McDowell, adding that in many occasions, “there were multiple clients on one night.”
In addition to meeting clients, Heaney suggested the women “do Webcam work - performing sexual acts on a webcam and sometimes, one woman would be required to work with another.”
It was Heaney who set the rates. His cut was anywhere between 20-50% and the court heard that when he was arrested, his bank account and the £150,000 in it was frozen.
The voyeurism charges arose because Heaney would sometimes film the sex with the customer “without the woman’s consent….indeed, some of the women were identified by their presence on video recordings found in the search of his home.”
As well as having sex with multiple customers, including unprotected sex at the behest of Heaney, “it is apparent that the women were required to have sex with him (for which he would often pay) and to satisfy his particular perversions”.
When one of the women stopped working for him, Mr McDowell said she was paid a visit by three men who shoved their way into her house “and told her not to use any of his contacts.”
Arrested in September 2019, Heaney tried to play down his role, claiming that he would drive “a couple of girls” and they would “throw him a couple of pound” for the fuel and wear and tear” but given his pleas, Mr McDowell said “the enterprise was on a significant scale with significant financial gain.”
During his half hour sentencing remarks, Judge Lynch said while the dozen victims had “suffered the degradations of the accused,” each with their own story, he focused on three of the women.
The first began working for Heaney as a stripper when she was 19 and he “regularly had sexual liaisons with her”. When she progressed into prostitution “at the instigation of the defendant,” she had worked both in Northern Ireland and in Dublin and Dundalk
Another woman was looking for work as a dancer but Heaney told her he only had a vacancy for a cleaner “but she would have to clean naked” while the third had had sex with many men but couldn't remember a lot of it because she was “off her head with heroin.”
Turning to victim impact statements, Judge Lynch said one woman now reported that “looking back, I know that he groomed me and encouraged me to do things that were never in my radar and had left me with feelings of shame and embarrassment.”
The reports and facts “give an indication of the extent of the deprivations and degradations” the women had to suffer through, said the judge.
The judge said that numerous aggravating features included the “sustained period” of Heaney’s operation, the multiple victims, the high degree of planning to the extent that “in essence it was a way of life for this accused” and the significant financial gain.
While the prosecution and probation board had sought to argue that Heaney is a dangerous offender and posed a significant risk of causing serious harm, Judge Lynch said that having considered the reports, it was his view that the seven-year STPO would be sufficient to protect vulnerable women from being exploited by Heaney.
He warned Heaney, sitting in the dock, that a breach of any of the dozen prohibitions “will be a criminal offence of itself” for which he would be liable to be sent back to prison.