Martin “Ash” Ashford (2014-)
Siblings: Luke (a.k.a. Patrick Stanwood) & Billie Ashford (deceased)
Occupation: Barman; Mechanic/Garage Owner
Ash was first seen as a mysterious individual who turned up at Angelo’s looking for Brax. Ricky feigned ignorance, worried he was looking for trouble, as did Irene and Roo. He was then challenged by Andy, but easily overpowered him when he tried to hit him. When he finally ran into Brax, it turned out to that was an old friend of Brax’s from prison. He and an accomplice, Dean Sanderson, had committed a robbery together where Dean had attacked and killed a security guard and blamed Ash, leaving him doing five years. Ash was now hoping to track down his sister Billie. Since Ash had helped him inside when he kept getting into fights, Brax let him stay on the sofa. His presence wasn’t welcomed by the rest of the family and Brax gave him a job at Angelo’s so he could pay his way. He got on better with Phoebe when they found themselves working together and she convinced Ricky that having him around was good for Brax. He convinced Brax to talk to Ricky about his experiences in prison after Brax attacked Josh when he took him by surprise. This resulted in Brax spending the night on the beach so Ash took him away for a while.
On their return, Ash went off with a woman he met in Angelo’s but when her husband and brothers came after him he had to ring Brax for help, causing Brax to miss Ricky’s ultrasound. He then took another girl, Heather Laverty, home and turfed Andy out of his room so they could use it. Brax told him he was out of control and Ash admitted he was missing his family. He got a lead on where Billie and Dean were but kept it from Brax. Andy overheard and told Brax who decided to go with Ash, despite Ricky objecting and Andy offering to take his place. They headed to a town in the outback where Ash spotted Billie’s car but was unable to follow it. Barman Sam Kennedy told them the car was Dean’s and gave them his address. They found Dean but all he could tell them was that Billie had walked out on him one night. Ash felt he had no further leads to follow up on, going back to the bar where they were staying and getting drunk. He woke up the next morning to find Brax had gone out and explained his history with Dean to Sam; Sam in turn revealed he had tried to protect Billie from Dean shortly before she disappeared and Dean had hit him with a cricket bat, leaving him deaf in one ear and ruining his chances of being a pilot. Brax then reappeared after confronting Dean again; he revealed he hadn’t found out anything about Billie but had retrieved the money from the robbery Ash and Dean did.
Ash wanted nothing to do with the money, telling Ricky what had happened and giving it to Phoebe so she could buy out her contract with Neive Devlin. Brax gave him the money back when Phoebe decided to stick with Neive but Ash admitted he had no idea what to do with his life and just stashed the money in the back room at Angelo’s. He was attracted to Denny when he found her trying to fix her car but was warned off by Brax, who explained she had been Casey’s girlfriend. Ash apologised to Denny, who accepted his help. Around the same time, he moved out of the Braxtons’ house into the caravan park. He saw Denny wearing an engagement ring and, after she confirmed it was real, told Brax she was engaged, not realising Casey had bought it for her. He went with Andy to keep an eye on Phoebe at her launch party. When Phoebe had her drink spiked and cut her hand, Ash took her to her dressing room. Neive told him to go and get the first aid kit while she phoned an ambulance but instead he found himself locked in the basement by Neive’s assistant Grant Masters along with an unconscious Andy.
They managed to free themselves from the cage and rescue Phoebe, who had been drugged and was about to be raped by Grant. He found a video of the incident, which made it look like Phoebe and Grant had had sex, on the internet and helped Phoebe realise Neive had set the whole thing up, joining Brax and Ricky in backing her up when she told Neive to stay away from her. He was quite taken with Katarina Chapman, a new guest at the caravan park, until he found out she was a police officer. When he learned that Brax had been arrested and accused of murdering Dean, he offered to take the blame, then worked out that Sam was responsible. He and Brax slipped away from town to look for him. Ash stopped Brax threatening Sam, instead trying to appeal to Sam’s better nature and talk him out of framing Brax, but they had to make a quick exit when Sam took advantage of his letting him go to call the police. He joined Brax in having a go at Kat, then stopped Kyle attacking Phoebe’s stalker Ryan Kelly. Brax placed him in charge of the River Boys while he was in prison. When Sam brought up the money in court, Ash was forced to admit where he’d hidden it but the police found it first. Constable Stevenson tried to arrest Ash as an accessory, prompting Brax to announce he had killed Dean alone. Ricky blamed Ash but Kyle convinced him to stay around and help out.
When Phoebe was kidnapped by Ryan, Ash got Denny to take Ricky away so she wouldn’t find out. Kat found out Ryan had planted a security camera in Phoebe’s room and tracked the signal, and Ash worked out that they were at the motel. He went there with Kat and Kyle in time to find Phoebe. He was confused when Denny kissed him on the wharf. Kyle advised him to go for it and he invited her out to lunch, but when Ricky had a go at him for ignoring Brax’s wishes he told her he just wanted to be friends. Denny parked herself in Angelo’s and refused to leave unless he spoke to her. Phoebe forced him to talk and he told Denny the situation and that he’d never had a proper relationship. They began spending time together and Ricky agreed to leave them alone, but Denny ran off when they tried to go surfing together. Ricky told him it was a reminder of Casey, helping him to smooth things over with Denny, but also told him he needed to let Brax know what was going on. He went to see Brax in jail; Brax was angry at the news and told Ash to stay away, but Ash told Denny that he was serious about her.
He and Denny slept together for the first time after spending the day together. Next day, she slipped away and then broke up with him. After a chat with Andy about her mixed feelings over Casey, he convinced her to give it another go. He went to visit Brax with Ricky only to find the prison locked down. Ringing up posing as Brax’s lawyer, he learned Brax was in solitary and eventually had to tell Ricky. He then found out Brax was in jail with Gunno, an old enemy of Ash’s who he had once reported for smuggling drugs into prison. Zac arranged for him to see Gunno, who agreed to leave Brax alone if Ash did a job for him. When Ricky was unable to get Brax transferred, he realised he had to do it. Gunno’s courier, Bob Harmsworth, turned up a day early with a bag of money which he had to hide in the gym. He told Denny what was going on and she eventually accepted he was helping Ricky, but Kyle decided to do the run instead of him.
On Anzac Day, he went to visit the grave of his brother Luke, who had served in Afghanistan. There, he found Billie, whose first instinct was to run from him. He convinced her to stay and go back to Summer Bay with him, where he told her Dean was dead. After talking with Ricky, Billie accepted Ash’s version of events and he gave her his number before she left. He reported to Bob when Kyle came back from the job only to learn Gunno expected him to do more. He and Ricky decided not to go along with it, but when Kyle went anyway Ash went after him. He disrupted a meeting, resulting in Kyle suffering minor injuries after being pushed off a cliff and accusing him of dooming Brax. When Denny confronted him about where he had been, he told her he was with Billie. After Brax threatened Gunno, Ash got a call from Bob saying there would be no more deals. However, then Billie returned to town and blew his cover story, forcing him to admit the truth to Denny. Angry at his dishonesty, she broke up with him.
Ash sought to get Billie a permanent place at the Braxtons’ and convinced Andy to move out so she could have his room. However, he then turned up at the house to find Billie straddling Kyle on his bed and learned they had been sleeping together. He twice tried to beat Kyle up in revenge but Ricky and Billie stopped him. When he found out Ricky doubted her ability to be a mother, he asked Denny to keep an eye on her. He got Kyle to the hospital when Ricky was in labour and was left waiting for news with Denny. Kyle encouraged them to make up and they hugged on hearing Ricky had had a boy. He tried to suggest they get back together; she initially resisted but later changed her mind. He planned to take her out for a Mexican for their first date back together but Denny suggested they go with Hannah to a gig Phoebe was putting on instead. When a drunken Hannah started dancing with a stranger, Oliver, who got overfamiliar, Ash squared up to him but Chris defused the tension with humour. Phoebe told Ash that Billie was spreading lies about her and wanted him to sort it out. He backed off when Billie looked like she might leave town but when Phoebe and Denny convinced him Billie was manipulating him he had a go at her again. They smoothed things over and she agreed to stay.
Brax called him and Kyle to the prison and asked for their help in escaping. Ash initially agreed with the plan to ambush his escort and get him to a safe house but pulled out when he was worried about leaving Denny behind. However, when he saw Kyle looking after Casey, he decided he was needed more and to do the job on his own, breaking up with Denny beforehand. He waited at the intercept point but when the prison car failed to turn up and he saw a black car in the area he went looking and was flagged down by guard Gregory Hayes, who told him they had been run off the road into the river and Brax had gone back in after the driver. Ash searched futilely for him and let Kyle know what was going on. He went to the safe house and found Brax there alive. They concluded Gunno was behind things and Brax decided the best way to keep his family safe from retribution was to let everyone think he was dead, convincing Ash to keep quiet about his survival.
Ash rejected Phoebe’s suggestion that Ricky wasn’t grieving properly. He had a bet with Phoebe on the surf carnival and told her he was more fun than her. They went skinnydipping and Phoebe stole his clothes. Back at the caravan park, he stumbled across her in a towel and tried to pull it off her; it resulted in her falling on top of him and them sharing a moment. He tried to talk to her about it the next day but she brushed him off. He encouraged Ricky to move on and attended the Braxtons’ memorial on the beach. Denny came to his caravan and they slept together but she told him she only wanted something casual. When Phoebe still refused to talk to him, he accidentally locked them in the store room, where they spent the night discussing their relationship history. He told her he loved her and they nearly kissed but were interrupted by Kyle. Afterwards, they agreed to just be friends.
When he heard that Billie had accused Nate of trying to sexually assault her, he had to be restrained from attacking Nate. He was recruited to look for Ricky when she ran away and ended up teamed up with Phoebe. He told Billie the truth about Brax and she advised him to tell Ricky; however, when he found Ricky she told him she was relieved that Brax’s death meant it was over. He then learned Billie had been lying about Nate. He nearly kissed Phoebe and, when she broke up with Kyle, they immediately had sex in his car. He rushed to the hospital when he heard Billie had been in a fire at Leah’s house, but when Billie was accused of starting the fire he walked away from her. He kissed Phoebe and told Kyle they were together. He and Kyle ended up coming to blows but he took Phoebe to say goodbye to Kyle when he left town. He was convinced to visit Billie again but, although he was friendly towards her, he admitted he thought she was guilty and she sent him away. He felt guilty when she then ran away from the hospital. When she was found, he helped bring her out of her catatonic state enough to be transferred to a burns unit. She again insisted she was innocent and this time Ash believed her and told Kat, also trying to get her to accept there could be a link between the fire and Zac and Leah’s house being broken into.
He told Phoebe he loved her after they’d spent the day on the beach. However, he walked away from her when she told him she was pregnant and didn’t know who the father was. After a lecture from Ricky, he told Phoebe he’d stick by her whatever happened. He was left somewhat dispirited when he tried to look after Casey while Ricky and Phoebe were away and ended up asking John and Marilyn to take over. When Kyle returned and pressured Phoebe to keep the baby, Ash ended up in an argument with him. Phoebe told him she was going to keep the baby and they went away together. After returning, he felt awkward watching a DVD of Phoebe’s first ultrasound with both her and Kyle. He got tested as a potential donor when Kyle needed a kidney transplant and was found to be a match just as Denny found a note left behind by Billie revealing Brax was alive. He convinced Denny to keep quiet and went through with the donation.
He then learned Phoebe wanted Kyle to be the father. A meeting to discuss the issue descended into an argument until the stress caused Phoebe to have stomach pains. The paternity test showed Kyle was the father and prompted Ash to open up his operation wound by overexercising, before telling Phoebe he wanted to break up. However, he changed his mind after lectures from Kyle and Ricky. He ended up looking after Casey alongside Kyle while the girls were having a farewell meal for Denny and helping him construct a cot. On learning that Phoebe had miscarried one of a set of twins and the remaining twin had a number of defects, he reluctantly suggested an abortion. Phoebe went ahead with the pregnancy but miscarried. He got into a fight with Kyle and rejected Phoebe when she tried to turn to him for comfort sex. He stopped her blaming Kyle and suggested they have a memorial.
He moved in with Phoebe and her friends but soon found himself ordered to keep his board outside and his beer out of the fridge. Phoebe called a meeting to discuss his habits and he agreed to cook; after a tense session, they agreed he had moved in too soon. He was the one that found Josh after he was knocked out by Tank Snelgrove. When he heard that Ricky and Nate were about to get together, he sent a message to Brax and questioned Ricky, but backed off and apologised when Brax responded telling him to let her be happy. He tried and failed to stop Kat getting drunk after she and Nate broke up and walked away when she started hitting the vodka again. However, then Kat turned up with her brother’s old car and Ash was quick to volunteer his services to help restore it. When he felt Phoebe was spending too much time worrying about her music tutor’s job, he did a strip tease to distract her.
When he learned Charlotte had been to see Gunno, he went to see her and realised she knew Brax was alive and Gunno had been blackmailing her into looking into it; they agreed to keep each other’s secrets. He warned Charlotte that Kat was looking into her. When Phoebe found one of Brax’s pseudonymous e-mails, she asked him if Brax was alive and Ricky heard. Ash denied it but later told Phoebe it was true. He asked her not to say anything and let Ricky be happy. He then found Kat knocked out and left to be gassed and realised Charlotte was responsible, cutting ties with her. He learned that Oscar had run into Billie, who he hadn’t even realised was out of the burns unit and who was living rough, and unsuccessfully searched for her.
Kat then told him she thought a body that had been found was Denny’s. They spent the night platonically in his caravan, and when Phoebe questioned him about it he was annoyed she didn’t trust him. Phoebe told him she’d seen Billie but his search for her was unsuccessful; however, Kat then summoned him when she came across Billie and they were reunited. When Billie was arrested after Kat’s stolen handcuffs were found in her bag, Ash realised Charlotte had set her up and tried to throttle a confession out of her, with Kat having to step in. After Charlotte threatened to reveal the truth and Ricky and Nate became engaged, Phoebe insisted they needed to tell Ricky. Ash went out and came back saying they didn’t have to worry about Charlotte, but nevertheless went with her to tell Ricky. After being thrown out by Ricky, they shared the news with Kyle.
He was brought in for questioning when Charlotte was found shot dead but said he’d been with Phoebe and/or Ricky all evening. Despite her lawyer’s pessimistic advice, Ash convinced Billie to attend her court date instead of doing a runner and Billie responded by trying to get him and Phoebe back together. She was saved when Hunter confessed during the trial and stopped Ash from confronting him. Ash slept with Phoebe but she told him he’d have to regain her trust before they got back together. When Kat told him that she had once been in a relationship with Dylan Carter, the detective investigating Charlotte’s murder, and he had been violent towards her, Ash warned Dylan off her. He got into another angry confrontation with Dylan after he had bullied Billie but shortly after found himself arrested when Phoebe admitted they had been apart for some of the night. Ash explained he had gone to pick up Billie from a night club but by the time he got there she had left in a taxi. Dylan was unimpressed but Kat found evidence that backed up his story and he was cleared, before reuniting with Phoebe.
When Ricky and Nate started housesitting for the Palmers, Ash moved into the annexe next to the Braxton house. He told Phoebe and Andy he was considering setting up a garage and Andy offered himself as a partner. They were turned down by the bank so Kat offered to lend them the money. They failed to get the garage they were after so Phoebe suggested they set up a new business and Ash suggesting starting a workshop at the caravan park. He tried to negotiate a deal with Alf and Kat, and asked Phoebe to put the license in her name since he and Andy both had records. Alf rejected his suggestion but pointed them towards a vacant lock-up. He was driven to distraction when Phoebe began making suggestions and told her she was only part of the business in name, although he made up with her afterwards.
He told Phoebe he was unable to attend the Pink Hope fundraiser because he was seeing a mate who had just been released from jail. However, the friend in question, Donkey, didn’t turn up and he instead got drunk with the barmaid, Selena Baxter, waking up to find her in his flat. He worried that they’d slept together but when he went back to the bar to look for her he learned she no longer worked there. When Alf found some photos of the two of them, he claimed it was his cousin but admitted the truth to Phoebe. When Selena came back for her things, she revealed she’d slept on the couch and he told Phoebe, but she felt it was a sign they didn’t trust each other and broke up with him anyway and he began sleeping with randoms, although he ignored a customer, Lara Bianco, who tried to chat him up in front of Phoebe. He realised Kat was back with Dylan; soon after, the garage was vandalised, but when Andy told him that Dylan had suggested that he was the target of the garage vandalism, he realised Dylan was behind it and confronted him. As a result, he was blasted by Kat, although Andy and Phoebe were more believing. At Josh’s prompting, he convinced Matt to go back to the garage as an apprentice.
He confronted Kat about her relationship with Dylan at the station, resulting in Emerson overhearing. He took Kat home when she got drunk at Nate and Ricky’s combined stag and hen do, where she kissed him and then passed out. Next morning, Kat had no memory of it but did tell him she thought he was right about Dylan. When Dylan turned up uninvited at Nate and Ricky’s wedding reception and made Billie feel uncomfortable, Ash had a go at him. Kat got a tip-off about the identity of Dylan’s henchman, Warren “Womma” Ronaldo, and Ash joined her in confronting him and getting him to unofficially confess to the garage vandalism. When Dylan assaulted Kat, Ash took her to the police station to make a statement against him, before dishing out his own brand of punishment to Dylan, after which he and Kat shared a moment. He stayed at the farm to keep an eye on her but Kat ended up standing up to Dylan without him, after which they kissed. They both decided to forget about it and when Ash next saw Dylan he told him to get out of town. He had to move into Kyle’s old room when Ricky and Nate reclaimed the annexe then turned up late to the hospital fundraiser and helped out in the aftermath of the explosion. He was puzzled to see VJ in a good mood after visiting Billie, after which he was attacked in his home by Dylan and knocked out. Dylan tied him up and tried to get him to admit he had ruined his life because he wanted Kat. Ash taunted him by saying that he hadn’t wanted Kat but had hooked up with her since. Kat and Billie were also taken hostage but Kat managed to talk Dylan down and he was arrested. Afterwards, Ash and Kat kissed again.
He supported Andy when he was charged with manslaughter over causing the fundraiser explosion, insisting he stay at the garage, and discussed becoming a couple with Kat. He and Kat decided to throw a dinner to tell Phoebe they wanted to be together, but when she failed to turn up, they ended up nearly having sex on the living room floor just as she came home. Although it put a damper on things, the following day Phoebe gave them her blessing and they consummated the relationship. Kat invited him over for lunch but Phoebe and Dom ended up coming home and joining them, with Ash and Dom getting on well despite the awkward situation. He learned that Billie was seeing VJ, and when he found out she was in hospital he went there and overheard that she was pregnant. When he asked if VJ was the father, she said he was. Ash went to the caravan park, grabbed hold of VJ and had a go at him, only to learn that he and Leah had no idea, leaving Billie angry. He lectured VJ about providing for Billie and the baby, and tried to get Ricky to stand by Nate only to learn she was going back to Brax.
Kat confided in him that Josh was the one who killed Charlotte and, having covered for him, she was now going to arrest him. He warned Andy and tried to look for Josh to warn him; in the process, he accidentally ran the car containing the Morgan brothers off the road, prompting an angry confrontation which stopped Justin getting a job at the garage. He found himself blamed by Kat when Andy confessed to protect Josh and advised Evelyn when Josh was arrested for giving Andy a false alibi. Kat eventually made up with him but he used the garage to bail Andy out without telling her. Justin warned him that he’d seen Andy doing dodgy deals at the garage but he accepted Andy’s story that he’d simply had a customer pay cash.
His sympathy dissolved somewhat when Andy did a runner with Josh, leaving Ash to pay the bail money out of the business. He found a bag of $50,000 Andy had left behind to cover the loss and realised Justin had been telling the truth about his dodgy deals. He found himself investigated for car rebirthing as a result of Andy’s actions but hid the money with help from Matt and insisted to Kat that the garage was clean. He and Matt came up with a plan to launder the money by having Justin pretend to invest it, which Justin agreed to in exchange for taking over Andy’s share. Ash also had to move back to the caravan park when the Braxton house was sold. He was forced to admit the truth to Kat when she started digging and she decided to resign from the police but began suffering panic attacks. Blaming Ash, she broke up with him.
Kat blamed him when a bad reference that referred to their history together stopped her getting a job as a criminology tutor and he responded by having a go at McCarthy, which Kat accepted was well-intentioned but didn’t entirely appreciate. When a plane carrying Billie and several other residents crashed in the desert, Ash set out with Justin to look for them which resulted in them spending a night in the bush. When they went back to get supplies, they found that Billie and most of the others had been found and Ash supported her as she had an ultrasound to confirm the baby was fine. He convinced Billie getting engaged to VJ was a good thing.
When he learned Chris was setting Kat and Phoebe up on a double date with a pair of accountants, he tried to convince Justin to join him in keeping an eye on them. He tried to watch the date at Salt while having dinner with John and Marilyn as cover but Kat soon called him out on it. He bought a pram for Billie and Kat helped him restore it. He then joined Kat in checking out Justin’s interest in Decker and helped Justin save Raffy Morrison from being abducted before taking her back to the Bay. He convinced McCarthy to allow Kat back into the police, telling him they weren’t together. He heard that Caroline Stewart was looking for marijuana for medicinal purposes and, remembering the pain his and Billie’s mother had gone through with cancer, decided to help her out. He put out feelers and eventually bought from a dealer, Burt “Simmo” Simmons, but lost it in front of Kat when he learned Simmo was the one behind the chop shop Andy had been involved with. Kat arrested him, telling him he’d be charged with hindering the police if he didn’t talk. He offered to lure Simmo to a meeting in exchange for immunity but Simmo saw the police lying in wait and drove off. This resulted in Phoebe running over Billie after Simmo had carjacked her.
Although Caroline was grateful for the marijuana, Kat was furious when she found out but he defended it as helping her with her pain and the argument ended with them sleeping together. Kat rushed off and later told him she was on a three month probationary period and would be fired if it was discovered that she was still seeing him. They decided to date in secret until the period expired and met up at the garage for a liaison but she had to hide when McCarthy called round to question Ash about a number of credit card frauds committed by Hope Morrison while working there. He was then sent photographs of him and Kat kissing by Simmo, who threatened to send them to the papers if Ash didn’t strip cars for him. Ash filled Kat in, then knocked Simmo out and dumped him in the bush. Simmo responded by cutting the brakes on Billie’s car (which VJ fortunately noticed before they drove it) and then having his thugs beat Ash up. Ash told Simmo he’d accept the deal then went away for a few days. Billie convinced him to go to the police instead and Simmo was arrested. Ash broke into Simmo’s house and managed to take his memory card and delete the photos from his laptop, but when Constables Stevenson and Murray turned up to collect it, Ash had to grab Simmo’s girlfriend Shenae from behind and threaten her to stop them finding him there. He admitted what he’d done to Kat and they both accepted their relationship was causing them to do the wrong thing, ending it.
He insisted on throwing VJ a bucks party, then played a joke on him by putting both his arms in plaster and telling him Billie had called off the wedding. He gave Billie away at the ceremony only for her to halt it partway through and was left confused by the lack of reasons. Then he overheard VJ and Billie talking about the fact Billie had been raped and learned the rapist was the father. Although he doubted that VJ would stand by Billie, he agreed not to tell anyone. He was bewildered that the couple wanted to give the baby the surname Patterson and when they nearly eloped. He also felt uncomfortable around Leah and tried to dissuade her from offering VJ and Billie money from her parents. He learned that Heath had killed Gunno and advised him to keep quiet, also offering to back up his version of events.
He found out Phoebe knew about the rape and suspected she knew who was responsible. Billie insisted no-one knew but Ash made it his mission to find out, believing it would make her feel better, and tried to subtly question Kat if there were any assaults around that time. After an arson attack outside the garage, he found himself investigated for insurance fraud, since he had upped his policy just before the fire. Although he was cleared by a combination of Kat’s detective work and Brody’s van being torched while he was at the station, he turned down Kat’s offer to get back together, feeling she’d always put her job first. He looked after Billie when she had a panic attack and she admitted VJ knew she’d lied to him; he advised her to be honest. Revealing he had some stuff to deal with, he left town after saying farewells to Kat and Billie.
He returned to find that Billie had given birth in his absence and was pleased when VJ revealed they had named the girl Lucinda or Luc after their late brother. He told Kat he wanted to get back with her. He then found out Mick Jennings was the one who raped Billie. When he saw VJ and Billie arguing over looking after Luc, he suggest Billie go to Irene, since she was family and the Pattersons weren’t, despite VJ claiming their behaviour was normal. He accepted Billie’s offer to be a guideparent and gave a speech at the ceremony, accepting her naming him Uncle Marty rather than Uncle Ash. However, Billie collapsed after the ceremony and turned out to have terminal cancer, which would kill her in days. After an impromptu wedding in the hospital chapel, Ash left her and VJ alone at the hospital and came back the next morning to find them gone. He found VJ had taken Billie to the beach and she had died, blaming VJ for taking her out of hospital and punching him. Kat and Justin tried to support him and he and Kat kissed.
On his return, he tried to block VJ’s plans to have Billie cremated rather than buried next to Luke as he had planned. However, Nate told him that VJ taking Billie out of hospital had made no difference and he finally accepted VJ was just trying to do what Billie wanted. When VJ told him John had started the fire that had hastened Billie’s death, he went to the hospital where John was being treated for a brain tumour to confront him and had to be escorted away by Kat. He sang one of Billie’s favourite songs at her memorial and scattered her ashes alongside VJ. He tried to help Leah look after Luc but when she criticised everything he did, he angrily told her she was nothing to Luc. Irene played peacemaker and convinced Leah to accept both their help.
He and Kat finally reunited as she helped him sort out Billie’s affairs. However, he was unable to track down Luke’s death certificate. When Kat discovered he was officially listed as missing after falling off a bridge and suggested a fake death certificate was used for the grave, Ash initially refused to listen to the possibility he might be alive but when someone rang him and didn’t say anything, he rang back and heard Luke’s voice. He and Kat found Luke living under the name Patrick Stanwood, prompting Ash to punch him and walk away. Kat convinced him to talk to Patrick on learning he had suffered depression and Ash introduced him to Luc but was frustrated when Patrick refused to admit who he really was. He was against Irene’s plan to have Luc live with her. Patrick refused to change his name back but said he was still Ash’s brother. Ash then tried to attack John when he saw him near the surf club. Patrick reminded him Billie would have only lived a few more days anyway and Ash went to see John and acknowledged he wasn’t himself at the time he started the fire.
He learned that Luc was staying with Irene and found her reluctant to let him visit when he liked. When he found out Patrick’s rental had run out, he convinced Kat to let him move into the farm house. However, Patrick became agitated when Ash tried to reminisce about old times and ended up attacking him when he woke him suddenly. Ash shrugged the incident off. Irene sent him away when he turned up for scheduled time with Luc, claiming she was restless. When he then learned Irene had promptly taken her to see Hunter and Olivia and had abused her own children, he tried to force her to let him take Luc and then threatened to get a lawyer. When VJ also became involved, he told them he wouldn’t go for custody as long as Luc was brought up right and he was involved in major decisions.
When he collected Luc from Irene, she dismissed her throwing up as reflux but when Tori saw her she took her to hospital to be rehydrated. He also learned Zac had moved out to a caravan and saw VJ punch him, so told Irene and VJ he was applying for custody. When he learned Roo was moving out of the Diner flat, he applied to rent it and asked Kat and Patrick to move in with him. At the mediation, he brought up VJ punching Zac and Irene not noticing Luc was sick and was awarded six months interim custody, although he agreed to give VJ one last week with Luc. When he took Luc back to the flat, he had trouble settling her and Kat and Patrick ended up fleeing. VJ came to his aid, giving him an old necklace of Billie’s that he’d used to settle her.
However, he continued to have difficulty spending time with anyone other than Luc; he tried going to the Diner with Kat and Patrick, leaving Luc in the flat with the baby monitor, only for Luc’s crying to mean he had to go upstairs. He got when he was working mixed up and had to leave Luc with Patrick. That night, Patrick disturbed him while he was asleep with Luc on the sofa, apparently believing he was back in Afghanistan and they were under attack. However, the next day Patrick refused to discuss the incident with him. After running over Ava Gilbert, Patrick admitted that his unit had come under fire near an orphanage and he had killed someone he thought was a sniper but was in fact a little girl. He then disappeared. With Kat’s help, Ash tracked Patrick to a clifftop and convinced him not to let what happened define him. Patrick then left for a rehab clinic.
When he heard Kat had been injured trying to arrest Will Zannis, his main concern was admonishing her over the fact he and Luc would be left alone if something happened to her. VJ admitted he wasn’t sure if he wanted Luc back and Ash told him Billie would want him to be happy. He worried that Kat wasn’t bonding with Luc and overheard that VJ had had a one-night stand, being blamed by Leah for VJ’s decision not to go for custody. He was worried that Luc wouldn’t settle and asked Tori to look at her. Leah suggested she might need a change of scene so he decided to take her camping and, after initial doubts, Kat agreed to come. However, after a night in the tent, Ash found he couldn’t wake Luc and decided to rush her to hospital, where it turned out she had been born with a bowel torsion and now needed emergency surgery. He briefly argued with VJ, who accused him of not looking after her. With Luc on antibiotics for septic shock, Ash stuck by her side until Tori took him out swimming and also apologised to Irene.
Although he felt bad about accusing Irene and VJ of not looking after Luc properly, he worried that VJ would want her back. As Luc began breathing again, Irene told them that Mick wanted access to Luc. Ash was dead against the idea and proposed adopting Luc; Irene and VJ both supported the idea but Kat was against it. He spoke with a lawyer but put the idea on the back burner when Mick was refused permission for a DNA test. He asked Kat how she felt about the idea and realised they wanted different things out of life, breaking up with her.