Northern Ireland

Prostitution and trafficking accused refused bail

Martin Heaney Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption Martin Heaney at an earlier court appearance

A County Down man charged with prostitution and human trafficking offences has been refused bail.

Martin Heaney, of Maypole Park, Dromore, is accused of earning money by advertising unprotected sex with a number of women.

The 57-year-old is also accused of driving women to towns including Omagh, Dungannon , Limavady, Carrickfergus and Banbridge to meet clients.

The judge said there was a risk of witnesses being interfered with.

Mr Heaney, who was arrested in September, has said he was not paid for driving the women and that he did it because he was bored and wanted out of the house.

He is charged in relation to three women, but police say there are now six alleged victims in the case.

A prosecution lawyer told Belfast High Court some of the "vulnerable women" had grown up in care, some were homeless and some had drug abuse issues.

They added there was an extremely strong case against Mr Heaney, including bank account evidence, phone records, the tracking of internet adverts for sexual services to his home computer and a high mileage on his car.

A lawyer for the accused said he was denying the charges and there was no risk of him fleeing the jurisdiction or committing more offences.

The judge agreed with these points but said there was a risk of coercion of witnesses and that new alleged victims had "come out of the woodwork" since the defendant had been in custody.

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