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Mother of Frankfurt club victim seeks justice

Moises Mendoza · 29 Apr 2011, 16:27

Published: 29 Apr 2011 16:27 GMT+02:00

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As Marie Heath got off her flight from England to Frankfurt am Main on Tuesday morning, she still believed her 31-year-old son Lee was only seriously bruised and battered.

But after rushing to the hospital, doctors told her the devastating news about the oldest of her three children, who was brutally assaulted in a popular Frankfurt nightclub early Monday morning.

“I was told he had a one percent chance of surviving,” Mary Heath told The Local from her sister’s home in England on Friday.

By Wednesday, Lee Heath had died, the victim of what police say was an inexplicable attack by several bouncers at the U60311 techno club. The beating left Heath with horrific head, neck and internal injuries.

Four employees from the club were arrested for their part in the incident – three are charged with manslaughter, another with failing to assist Heath as he lay on the ground, severely injured. On Friday, city authorities ordered U60311 temporarily closed, citing sanitation and hygiene violations.

Doris Möller-Scheu, spokeswoman for the Frankfurt state prosecutor's office, said on Friday three bouncers remained in custody while the criminal investigation continued.

“We’re speaking to witnesses right now,” she told The Local.

Wanting justice

Marie Heath, 52, from Essex, England, said she now wants justice – the bouncers must face the law, the club needs to close permanently, and Frankfurt needs stricter regulation of security personnel. But she also wanted to thank many in Germany for standing by her family during the unimaginably difficult ordeal.

And more than anything, she wants people to know the kind of man she says her son was: A lover of football who moved to Germany to build a new life for himself and his long-time German girlfriend; an in-demand handyman who dreamed of starting his own business.

“Lee didn't deserve this but he fought to the end,” she said. “I have to be his voice. That’s why I’m so thankful to speak out.”

Heath grew up in East London and did some construction and handyman work at London’s Heathrow Airport before moving about 18 months ago to the Offenbach area, east of Frankfurt, with his girlfriend of about five years.

In Offenbach, Heath worked for delivery service UPS while he set about learning German and building up his nascent handyman business. He had a reputation as a devout fan of English football club Arsenal, but also as a hard worker with a penchant for getting things done.

A valued member of The Local's forum Toytown Germany, Heath was praised online by fellow expat Tricia Hunter as “the answer to a lot of prayers,” describing how Heath had perfectly renovated three rooms. Another forum member said: “He was lovely. Open, funny, friendly.”

Hunter told The Local by phone on Friday that in just three months Heath had become like a member of her family.

"He was a very open person. That's the one thing everyone noticed about him," Hunter said.

Some of Heath's work tools remain at Hunter's home. He was supposed to start more renovations soon.

Unprovoked violence?

Details of the dreadful incident on Monday remain hazy.

Story continues below…

In a statement, the U60311 management apologized for making “mistakes” but said the beating stemmed from a dispute between two unnamed customers, one of whom allegedly attacked an employee with a bottle.

But Frankfurt police said though Heath at some point got in a dispute with club staff, there was no evidence he attacked anyone.

Marie Heath said police had told her that her son's assault occurred utterly unprovoked, as his girlfriend went to the restroom and he walked towards the bar.

On Friday, no one answered the phone at the club. Its Facebook page – where workers had been posting about new techno parties at U60311 even after Heath’s death – had been taken down.

As she visited his hospital bedside this week, Marie Heath thought not about the attack, but about whether she could help her son survive. She whispered quiet words at his hospital bedside as he lay in a coma and went through surgery after surgery.

After he passed away, she told him she loved him. And she told him goodbye.

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Moises Mendoza (moises.mendoza@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

16:45 April 29, 2011 by D_J
Condolences to the aggrieved mother!

I hate these aggressive bouncers.
17:39 April 29, 2011 by oneforall
These brain dead hired muscles try to achieve meaning for their life by bullying people and being aggressive. That's the only way they feel 'important'. This is the second time hearing about such an incident. There is a need for clear laws with respect to the man handling allowed, by these 'bouncers'. Also, I agree, the club should be shut down forever.

Condolences to the family. R.I.P. Lee.
18:04 April 29, 2011 by Muttlestar Galactica
Hanging's too good for these scum.
18:53 April 29, 2011 by Angry Ami
Yeah, untrained hire thugs, just waiting to pounce, and 4 against 1, muscle bound P*ssies, but unfortunately this kind of thing can happen anywhere, I remember an incident @ the Country Club in Reseda, Ca.

we were all seated at a table, and suddenly a bouncer came over and told this guy Mark he had to leave the club, and we were all like what for? the bouncer claimed he'd groped some chick in the club, nonsense, we all came in together and sat at the same table and ordered drinks, he never left his seat, and he was with his GF not only did the bouncers not listen to any of us, when he refused and asked to see the manager, they picked him up out of his seat and carried him out of the club, and when he went to defend himself they beat the crap out of him, he manage to sue the club and the security firm, but that also could have ended tragically.

My sympathies for the family.
19:53 April 29, 2011 by tallady
outrageous, this collection of misfit abusers deserve to be cooked in oil . i hope these despicable excuses for human beings get what they deserve which is no less than they gave this person.
21:32 April 29, 2011 by HailToTheKingBaby
Now let us get one thing straight. What has happened to this gentleman is horrific. I do not dispute this fact. But please try to remember that "bouncers" are there for YOUR protection. These animals who decided that 5 against 1 was fair and beat an innocent man to death are a rare breed of security staff. I hope that level-headed readers understand that we are not all just "muscle for hire" and that nearly everyone who works in the industry are disgusted by this abhorrent crime. Germany needs to adopt stricter rules on who can become a bouncer and only by doing this can they remove the scum and bring in people who are there to protect everyone trying to enjoy a good time.
23:23 April 29, 2011 by WTM
Really proud of Mrs.Heath.. Need not worry.. he will not be forgotten..

Deepest condolences.

It's sad what this world is coming to.
08:11 April 30, 2011 by hOU
This is no reason for a FFaM landmark club to be closed, the bouncers must be punished of course, but demanding closure of a near 20 year old club because of one event is kneejerk & pointless - it will achieve nothing.
09:49 April 30, 2011 by sjv123
It WILL achieve something to close this club down and any other club that employs these cowardly scum so called bouncers,it will make new club owners realise they will also be closed down if they dont change their policies about the way there bouncers 'work'. It was an unprovoked attack and if the bouncer who felt he had to wear quartz stone sand filled gloves and STILL need 4 more bouncers to back him up to beat one man to death then he is a coward,murdering scumbag.Justice WILL be done Lee
19:36 May 1, 2011 by raandy
hOU come on the club owners should be punished along side the thugs they hired.
08:18 May 3, 2011 by marieheath
i am Lees mum

i have to write to say i will get justice for lee and i hope to acheive some good from this so my son did not die in vain

the legislation needs to be changed for everyones safety as i would hate any other mother to go through this pain and i will do everything in my power to achieve this and i rely on everyones support in doing this-i watch lees brother and sister going through their pain every day

our lives will never be the same but i have to speak for Lee

and my family

Lee worked hard and liked to enjoy life too

many people neeed to hold up their hands to this including officials
08:53 May 3, 2011 by smashthebookies
Well said Mrs Heath. No one can imagine what you and your family are going through. The club should be closed to send a strong message to other nightclub owners, 'hire thugs and this may happen to your club also'. The doormen should be required to train for a licence like they are in Sweden and CCTV should be standard in nightclub hallways like they are in many nightclubs in the UK. Those two simple changes to the law would definately have prevented this tragedy.
16:04 May 4, 2011 by Mr Goodmorning
I don't know anything about Frankfurt's licensing procedures, but the City where I live, Boston, MA, USA, ties liquor licenses to incidents at licensed establishments and may hold establishments responsible for crime associated with their operation. For example, should a crime be suspected to be associated with a club or bar, the establishment's management must appear before the City's Licensing Board and explain why they should or should not have their liquor or operational license suspended or revoked. Minor incidents usually result in warnings or maybe a short suspension (though if an establishment exlains that it did all it could within reason to prevent an incident -ie expel troublemakers who later cause a problem nearby- no action will probably be taken by the board). Out of control bouncers usually result in a suspension of a few days (and admonishment from the board's chairwoman reminding them that they are the professionals and should know better than to react to provocation), however in a case like this, an establishment's licenses would be revoked without doubt.
10:47 March 27, 2012 by AllenM
My wife and I are close neighbours of Marie and we value the friendship of Marie and Brian. It has been dreadful to watch the distress that they are going through and to know that our administration (the FCO )has done practically nothing to help them, not even providing an interpreter to disentangle the legal jargon that has regularly come through their letterbox. The costs involved in travelling to Germany for the trial, which I understand is spread over many weeks, is very considerable and a local fundraising campaign has done little to help.

Marie and Brian, you have the unflagging support of very many people all of whom are anxious to see justice done.

Take care and God bless.
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