Belfast Telegraph

Suspected Northern Ireland pimp in court on charges of trafficking women

Accused: Heaney hides his face
Accused: Heaney hides his face

By Paul Higgins

A Co Down man accused of exploitation offences including human trafficking and controlling prostitution has been remanded into custody.

Martin Heaney appeared at Craigavon Magistrates Court yesterday where he indicated that he understood the nine charges against him.

The 57-year-old, from Maypole Park in Dromore, faces three counts of trafficking three females with a view to them being exploited and controlling the women's prostitution for gain.

The offences were allegedly committed on October 31, 2017, January 30, 2018, and December 1, 2018.

Heaney was also accused of acquiring criminal property of £139,772 on September 30 this year, and paying for sexual services on dates between June 1 2015 and September 1 this year.

Heaney faces a final count alleging that he "kept or managed or acted in the management of or assisted in the management of a brothel" on August 14 this year. None of the facts surrounding the allegations were opened in court.

However, giving evidence a detective constable with the PSNI's modern slavery and human trafficking unit said he believed he could connect the accused to the charges.

It is understood Heaney was arrested on Sunday and that the charges relate to what police described at the time as a "proactive investigation into human trafficking for sexual exploitation".

A 27-year-old female arrested in the Antrim area on suspicion of controlling prostitution, brothel keeping and money laundering has been released on police bail.

Meanwhile, six men aged between 20 and 54 arrested at locations across Northern Ireland on suspicion of paying for sexual services, have been released pending a report to the Public Prosecution Service.

In court yesterday defence counsel Peter Coiley said there would not be a bail application for Heaney.

District Judge Amanda Brady remanded Heaney into custody to appear via video-link at Craigavon Magistrates Court on October 25.

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