I posed as a single mother desperate for some money and he offered me work... but it was no ordinary job
I’m in the car of sex offender and prolific pimp Marty Heaney. He doesn’t know I’m a journalist, and I don’t know the full extent of his depraved activities.
It’s New Year’s Eve 2008. He is parked outside Dunnes Stores on Annadale Embankment, off Belfast’s Ormeau Road.
The surrounding streets are dark and empty. Everyone has gone to restaurants and bars to bring in the new year.
Marty is interviewing me for a ‘job’ in his house as a cleaner. I’m posing as a single mother desperate for money. In real life, I have a nine-month old baby daughter fast asleep at home.
Later, I try and focus hard on her to eradicate all thoughts of this vile man, who was last week sentenced for prostitution and human trafficking offences.
Marty’s offering me £15 to go to his house and clean in the nude. “I’d be naked too,” he says. “I’d be w****** while you were cleaning.”
He outlines other services I could provide for him: “If you want to do a b*** ***, I’d pay an extra tenner, so that would be £25,” he grins.
“Sex, an extra tenner (£35). You do a bit of cleaning for an hour, then a bit of fun at the end of it.” He’ll pay “another tenner” for intercourse without a condom. So for £45, a woman is expected to endanger her health.
Marty has special requests: “What I like is watersports — that’s peeing,” he says. He urinates on women, but “I especially like a girl peeing on me”. There’ll be “an extra fiver” if I agree.
My investigation into Heaney began when a 22-year-old Romanian migrant worker, Mariana Ursu, told me how she’d placed an ad on Gumtree for an ordinary cleaning job. She listed her mobile number. Marty texted asking her to clean naked.
Mariana, who had little English, didn’t understand. Marty phoned her. An Irish friend took the handset off and “told the filthy old man to f*** off or I’d get the police” before slamming down the phone.
“I do not want this man or this work. I have a two-year-old daughter in Romania. I feel disgust,” Mariana told me as she gave me Marty’s mobile number, asking me to expose him.
Marty messages and rings me relentlessly both before and after I meet him — 24 times in one evening.
He asks me for forensically intimate details about my body.
When he wants to meet for sex one night, I tell him I’ve no child-minder. “Bring the baby,” he says.
He promises there are no hidden cameras in his home. Ideally, he’d like two girls at once. He asks if I’ve a friend.
In the car, he suggests I “come up and do cleaning tonight for an hour”. I decline, saying I need time to think.
“If you wanted to give me hand relief tonight here,” he says pointing to an empty car park across the road, “I’d give you a tenner.”
I ask what happens if the PSNI arrives. “By the time the police car comes in, I’d have my zip pulled up. It’s not as if I’m lying on top of you — there’s nothing could be seen.”
He appears disturbingly knowledgeable about avoiding arrest for indecent exposure. He says he’s a former taxi driver who still does odd jobs. His car displays no legal taxi plate.
When I’m there, a woman rings ordering a taxi from a bar in town. I worry about the safety of his female passengers.
I’m in the car for 20 minutes, but it seems like a lifetime. I feel dirty afterwards for having breathed the same air as him.
My story was published in the Sunday Tribune. I’d no idea Heaney was a pimp, but I knew he was dangerous.
A fortnight later, Sunday World tracked him down ferrying sight-seeing visitors around Belfast in a tour bus.
The paper also discovered he’d made horrendous comments to female customers in a taxi company where he’d worked. The owner phoned police to tell them everything before sacking him.
These stories were published in January 2009. They should have set off alarm bells for the PSNI. Did they give Heaney the attention he deserved then?
In 2010, he messaged two schoolgirls who had advertised a charity car wash at an Orange hall.
He offered them money to clean his car but then drove them to a secluded area where he performed a sex act in front of them. Afterwards, he threw £25 at the terrified teenagers, saying “that’s easy money”.
He was placed on the sex offenders’ register but not jailed despite having two previous convictions for indecent exposure.
He was sentenced for the abuse of 12 women last Wednesday, although the real number of victims is likely many times higher.
Most of the women he controlled as prostitutes were young, poor and vulnerable. Some had grown up in care, others were drug addicts.
They were coerced into having sex with him and multiple men for as little as £15 a time. He filmed them secretly.
Heaney (59) ran his vice ring from June 2011 until September 2019 when he was arrested after an eight-month PSNI investigation.
That someone whose proclivities were in the public domain was able to run such an enterprise for eight years baffles me.
He received a five-year-sentence last week — half to be served in prison and half on probation.
With time served on remand, he walked free from court.
The DPP is considering referring the sentence to the Court of Appeal on the grounds it may be unduly lenient.
From start to finish, the sick, sordid story of Marty Heaney shows the system is failing women.
The Tories aren’t my cup of tea
Whoever the next Prime Minister is, it won’t be a white man. The Tories will either put their third female leader or first British Asian one into Number 10.
While that definitely does signal increasing diversity, some Conservatives could still do with equality training.
A photo tweeted of six members of the 1922 Committee showed five white, male politicians being served tea by the one female and Asian MP present, Nus Ghani.
Clearly holding a teapot is still, consciously or subconsciously, deemed too demeaning by Tory men.
Council has lost the plot on Bloody Friday
Imagine if there was no mention of the fact it was British paratroopers who massacred 13 innocent people on Bloody Sunday at the Derry and Strabane City Council-sponsored event to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the atrocity?
There would be justified outrage, so it’s entirely understandable that eyebrows have been raised at Belfast City Council’s apparent decision to exclude reference to the IRA in its Bloody Friday commemoration.
Bridge-building and reconciliation should never mean eradicating historical facts no matter how inconvenient.