Belinda Ashford (2015-2017)
Tessa de Josselin
Episodes: 6181–6243; 6343–6597
Siblings: Patrick Stanwood & Martin Ashford
Marital Status: VJ Patterson (2017, non-legal ceremony)
Children: Luc Patterson
Occupation: Gym Worker
Billie was mentioned several times from Ash’s first appearance in 2014: His younger sister and only surviving relative, she had been in a relationship with Dean Sanderson, who Ash had done a robbery with. Billie had believed that Ash, rather than Dean, had been responsible for an attack on a security guard and had testified against him, earning him a severe jail sentence. Brax and Ash tracked Dean down but found Billie was no longer with him, having run away after his beatings became too much.
Billie was first seen in a photograph in Episode 6180. Shortly after, Ash found her at their brother Luke’s grave on Anzac Day. Although her first instinct was to run away, Ash convinced her to stay and remember Luke with him, then come back to Summer Bay. She was freaked out when Ash told her Dean was dead, despite having previously been scared he would come after her, until Ricky explained that Brax was in jail for killing him but the real culprit was Sam Kennedy, who had been injured and left with permanent hearing difficulties after trying to protect Billie from one of Dean’s beatings. Billie finally accepted that Ash, who she referred to as Marty, was innocent of the attack on the security guard and left town after taking his number.
Billie returned not long afterwards and accidentally blew Ash’s cover story for the jobs he was doing for Gunno by telling Denny she hadn’t seen him in a week. Ricky arranged for her to spend the night at the Braxton house, where she slept with Kyle. He was horrified when Ash arranged for Andy to move in with Hannah so Billie could stay there permanently and told Billie not to take the room, but she warned him she wasn’t going to obey his orders. They were soon sleeping together again, resulting in Billie having to hide in the kitchen in her underwear when Ash called round. Kyle baulked when she referred to him as her boyfriend and tried to avoid her. She told him she was happy to be casual, but when Ash walked in on her straddling Kyle in bed he tried to beat Kyle up. Billie took responsibility and accepted Kyle wasn’t interested in a relationship, lamenting to Ricky that no-one ever wanted her for long. She and Kyle managed to smooth things over and carry on living together.
She took a job at the gym after Denny talked Kyle into it and helped smooth things over between Ash and Denny, but was still hoping Kyle would get over Phoebe and paid him a lot of attention at a barbeque to celebrate baby Casey’s birth, as well as inviting herself along when Kyle attended one of Phoebe’s gigs, raising the tension level. She made a pass at Kyle after telling him Phoebe and Chris were together, and when Phoebe had a go at her she accused her of turning Kyle against her. When Ash tried to take her to task about it, she threatened to leave but Phoebe and Denny thought she was manipulating him so he told her to leave if she wanted. Billie told Phoebe that she’d taken her bad mood out on her but refused to apologise, then smoothed things over with Kyle and Ash.
When Ricky was having trouble relaxing around Casey, Billie tried to teach her to meditate, then helped her relax by taking her for a surf. She found herself involved when Ash and Denny split up and then when Brax was declared dead, calling Phoebe to support Kyle. Ash later confessed to her that Brax was still alive and she told him to tell Ricky. Nate saved her from drowning when she had a surfing accident and as a result she fixated on him, buying him a pair of boxing gloves as a thank you, then following him around making up ailments and inviting herself to dinner with him. She tried to make his girlfriend Kat jealous but Kat dismissed her as a threat and Nate stressed that he wasn’t interested in her. She put up posters around town of Kat’s head on a stripper’s body, endangering her chances of promotion. When Nate had a go at her, she pretended to make peace then sent a sexually aggressive message to herself from his phone. She then arranged to meet Chris at the surf club, then ripped her top while she was alone with Nate in the gym and scratched his face, claiming that he’d assaulted her, with Chris nearby to act as a witness. However, Chris began to get suspicious so she started dating him. She realised he was trying to record her confessing to setting up Nate on his phone so turned it off and told him he was right…at which point he revealed he was wearing a wire. Nate was cleared and Billie was charged with making a false statement.
Although Ash collected her from the station, he wasn’t impressed with her explanation that she was fed up of being rejected and Chris also refused to forgive her. Billie found herself ostracised, with the gym vehicle being vandalised. She offered to resign, and when she changed her mind Andy told her it was actually a good idea for her to stay away. She overheard Nate and Chris badmouthing her and got into an argument with Leah, VJ and their family, then found the Patterson house on fire. She ran inside to help Zac get Matt and Oscar out of their room, but was hit by a beam as they fled and left behind, suffering burns and smoke inhalation and having to be placed in an induced coma when she went into respiratory distress. She recovered enough to breathe unaided and apologised to Nate for what she had done. However, Kat then came to the hospital and told her that her bag, which she had thrown down when she saw the fire, had been found at her home with matches and gloves inside.
She found herself charged with arson and Ash refused to believe she was innocent. Although Ash and Nate sympathised with her when they realised how depressed she was, her frustrations caused her to run away from the hospital despite the risk of her burns being infected and the fact she was in danger of breaching her bail conditions, leaving a note for Ricky telling her Brax was still alive. Kat found her on a cliff edge and accidentally fell over the edge herself while trying to pull Billie back. Billie saved her but lapsed into a catatonic state. However, Ash managed to bring her round by telling her he believed she was innocent and he, Nate and Chris all wished her luck as she was taken to a burns unit.
She reappeared some months later after being discharged; she was still on bail and keeping her check-ins even though she was living rough in the bush. She found Oscar after he was washed up in a storm and took him to a shack for shelter, where she managed to convince him she didn’t start the fire. She called Kat to let her know where he was but left before anyone turned up. When her car broke down and she was discovered by Phoebe, Billie hid from her in the bush. Irene nearly ran her over while drink driving and Billie covered for her, telling Kat she’d been driving. Kat convinced her to contact Ash but she soon found herself being questioned by the police again when she was framed by Charlotte for an attack on Kat.
When her lawyer could only advise that she plead guilty to the arson, she admitted to Phoebe that she was thinking of running away and Ash and Phoebe caught her trying to hitch-hike. She encouraged the pair to get back together. The trial seemed to be going badly for her but then Hunter announced that he was the real culprit. Billie was so relieved that she stopped Ash confronting Hunter, willing to let the matter drop. Ash asked her to stay in town and Phoebe let her move in with her, Kat and Hannah. She found herself intimidated by Dylan Carter, the detective investigating Charlotte’s murder. Alf apologised to her for the town mistrusting her when she’d been a hero and she befriended VJ, trying to get him to let go of his anger towards Hunter. She gave Chris and Hannah a nudge when they were dithering over getting together. Kyle confided in her that he was being threatened by people who he owed $75,000 to in gambling debts and she talked him out of burning down Angelo’s for the insurance money.
She helped Andy, Ash and Phoebe celebrate when they managed to get premises for their garage. She attended the lunch Hannah was holding before her elective double mastectomy, but admitted to the others that she didn’t understand Hannah choosing to mutilate her body, unaware that Hannah was within earshot. She started work at the gym again and found underage VJ and Skye attending a uni party at Angelo’s, before looking after VJ when he got drunk and threw up behind a bush. She helped Phoebe with ideas for a Pink Hope fundraiser and attended the event. Ash confided in her that he thought he’d cheated on Phoebe and she gave Skye a surfing lesson when VJ proved an inattentive teacher. She assumed VJ liked Skye but Josh filled her in on the fact that VJ was only pretending to date Skye because he really liked Billie. She told VJ she only saw him as a friend and tipped off Oscar, the object of Skye’s affections, before hanging out with his uni friends. She admitted she’d missed VJ when he went away surfing but admonished him when he punched Tank Snelgrove for talking to Skye. She chided Ash on learning he’d kissed Kat. When she saw Dylan overworking in the gym in what seemed to be a form of self-flagellation after being suspended from work for corruption, she admitted to Ash that she felt sorry for him.
That night, she was attacked in the gym by a masked man and raped. She said nothing to Phoebe when she went home but the next day when Oscar suggested they go to the hospital fundraiser together as friends and reminded her of how she’d conned a guy into buying them drinks by pretending to be a pro surfer, she broke down and admitted to him what had happened. He took her to hospital, but on seeing Nate there she refused to get checked out or report it, feeling no-one would believe her after her lies about him. She accepted an invitation from VJ to spend time at his, wanting to get on as normal, but snapped at him for not appreciating his family and stormed out when he objected to Leah ordering him around. She then went away up the coast for a while.
She returned a few days later to find that Oscar and Hannah had been killed in an explosion at the fundraiser. VJ came to the farm with supplies and, after they’d reminisced about Oscar, she slept with him, although she told him not to have any expectations. She went round Ash’s and was briefly held prisoner by Dylan, along with Ash and Kat, being knocked to the ground by him and hitting her head. After Kat had talked Dylan down, Billie collapsed and was taken to hospital but Samantha Benson told her it wasn’t a result of her injury: She was ten days pregnant. She confided in Phoebe about the rape but refused to report it. She was uncomfortable at the wake when Leah warned her VJ had a crush on her and ran away when he tried to kiss her. VJ came to the house to apologise and she accepted an invitation to meet him on the beach where they kissed again, establishing them as a couple.
When Leah saw them kissing on the beach, she tried to get Billie to end the relationship but she refused. She had dinner with VJ’s family to get to know them and it seemed to go well but she ran away when VJ told her he loved her. Tori took her to hospital when she found her with severe morning sickness and Ash overheard that she was pregnant when he picked her up; when he asked her if VJ was the father, she claimed he was. She was angry when Ash went after VJ, tipping him and Leah off to the pregnancy, but both of them offered her support. When Phoebe asked if the pregnancy was the result of the rape, she denied it and also refused her suggestion to tell VJ about it. She accidentally spent the night in VJ’s room after falling asleep. Spending more time with the family, she told Leah her mother had died when she was eleven. Leah invited her to move in with the family but later withdrew the offer. When she ran into Samantha at the gym and she asked her about the pregnancy, Billie stole her pass card and used it to log onto the hospital computer and alter her details, then returned it to Samantha saying she’d left it behind at the gym.
She and VJ tried to spend time with Hunter and Olivia but she felt left out when they talked about things she didn’t know about and ended up leaving upset when Olivia branded her stupid for getting pregnant by someone younger. She tried to break up with VJ but he refused to let her and instead they slept together again. Olivia came round with Hunter to apologise and Billie invited the couple to spend time with them. She tried to help VJ study for an essay but Zac felt she was distracting him and ordered her out of the house. He later asked her to stay away from VJ. Billie got him to do the essay round hers where he again let slip that he loved her; after taking her time to think it over, she told him she was starting to fall in love with him too.
When Phoebe found out about Irene’s son Mick Jennings being in town around the time of the fundraiser and having a history of sexual assault, she suggested to Billie that he was her attacker. Billie went to the hospital and lured the police guard away with a fake phone call so she could sneak into Mick’s room; she recognised his tattoo and realised it was him. However, she refused to report it to the police or tell Ash. Chris asked her to help Irene improve her confidence after her ordeal with Mick by giving her self-defence lessons. Billie initially refused, but when Olivia told her and VJ what a mess Irene was she changed her mind, and managed to motivate Irene by talking about what it felt like to be a victim. She then started bleeding and Irene took her to hospital but she was given the all clear and had her first ultrasound. VJ insisted on Billie staying over so he could support her, despite Leah and Zac being angry that he failed his essay, but Billie was shocked the next morning when during another argument he announced he was moving in with her.
Billie was concerned by the adolescent way it had happened and, at Irene’s suggestion, visited Leah to assure her it was just a temporary arrangement. She tricked VJ into meeting Leah but it ended with VJ storming out. When she came home to find that VJ’s attempt to invite a few friends over had escalated into a party that he refused to shut down, she called Zac for help. She used the opportunity to send VJ back home and he was hurt to realise she didn’t want to live with him. Irene encouraged her to accept VJ’s support, but when he decided he was going to drop out of school and get an apprenticeship she felt he was giving up too much for her and broke up with him. She prepared to leave town and wrote a note for VJ telling him he wasn’t the father. However, she ended up agreeing to his proposed compromise – they moved into a caravan together with VJ staying at school – and tore up the note.
While VJ was attending a fundraising sleepover, she was convinced to attend a dinner party at Irene’s. However, Chria’ gourmet food made her ill and she was left severely uncomfortable when Irene gave her a blanket she’d made while pregnant with Mick. She went along on a plane trip organised by Duncan to celebrate Tori’s birthday only for it to crash, leaving them stuck in the desert. With her amniotic sac damaged in the crash and Billie needing to stay still, the other passengers set up a makeshift bed for her in the crashed plane only for it to catch fire, with Irene and Leah only just getting her out before it exploded. However, this resulted in them being found and after being reunited with VJ and Ash she was relieved when an ultrasound showed the baby was fine.
She initially disagreed with VJ wanting to know the sex of the baby but after a talk with Irene, who was convinced Mick would have turned out all right if she’d kept and loved him, she relented and was delighted to learn they were having a girl. She and VJ began to struggle living in the caravan and she was eager to take Leah up on her offer to move into the house. As they moved their things, Billie took the opportunity to try and lose Irene’s blanket. When VJ found it, Billie burned it, telling VJ she thought it was weird. She was delighted when Ash bought a pram for her and restored it, and tried to set things up between him and Kat.
Leah dropped heavy hints about using a traditional family name for the baby so Billie decided to use Leah as a middle name. She helped VJ convince Zac and Leah that Zac should move back in. She and VJ had an argument over her spending money and she took a bus out of town, then got run over by Phoebe. She needed surgery on a bleeding spleen but it resulted in her making up with VJ. However, Nate then told her that the baby’s blood group meant VJ couldn’t be the father. Billie told him she was raped but didn’t know who it was or that he was the father. When VJ announced he was quitting school, Nate pressured her to tell him the truth. She was discharged from hospital but was unable to tell VJ when she saw he and Leah had done up their room for the baby. Nate then confronted her on discovering she had altered the hospital computer records and she admitted she always knew VJ was the father. Nate threatened to tell VJ himself and Billie begged him to let her do it. She then collapsed with stomach pains and was found to have high blood pressure. Realising the stress was affecting her, Nate reluctantly agreed to keep quiet but still thought she should tell VJ.
She took part in organising an 18th birthday dinner for VJ, where she gave a loving speech about how much she appreciated him. When they got home, VJ proposed to her. She turned him down and Nate suggested it was because she didn’t want to start a marriage based on a line. However, when VJ told him he was moving out to a caravan, she told him to ask her again and this time accepted but asked him not to tell anyone. She tried to distract him with an antenatal group only to pull out when she saw Samantha was running it. VJ then announced the engagement in the Diner but after talking it over with Ash and Kat she began to realise the engagement was a good thing. However, VJ then found a scrap of the note she’d written him when she was planning to leave and confronted her about it. Billie refused to explain and instead packed her bags to leave, but when VJ told her he’d do anything if she stayed she told him she wanted to get married as soon as possible. She and VJ nearly avoided disaster when they discovered the brakes of their car had been sabotaged and she then found Ash had been beaten up by the culprit, Simmo. She convinced Ash to go to the police rather than let Simmo blackmail him into working for him.
She refused to have bridesmaids and groomsmen at the wedding, not wanting her friends there looking attractive while she was pregnant. When VJ started arguing every point of the wedding plans, Billie threatened to call the wedding off until he backed down. She went along with Ash’s bucks party joke of putting VJ’s arms in plaster but reassured him when Ash told him that she wanted to call off the wedding. She went to a hen party that Marilyn threw for her but felt guilty when Marilyn made a speech praising her integrity and she heard VJ and Leah discussing her in glowing terms. She woke up on the morning of the wedding determined to go through with it, but after she and VJ had both made sincere vows she realised she couldn’t and ran from the ceremony, privately telling VJ the baby wasn’t his. She told him she had been raped but claimed not to know who by. VJ went away with Leah and Zac for a while, with all of them and Alf telling Billie she should stay at the house while they were away.
When VJ returned, he told her he would marry her once the baby was born and pretend to be the father, keeping it from everyone else, but Ash overheard them discussing the rape and Billie had to tell him the same things she’d told VJ. She and VJ discussed baby names but Ash was bewildered that they intended to give the baby the surname Patterson. They decided to elope to prove they were serious, but on their way to the registry office Billie had stomach pains and worried she was in labour. At the hospital, she was told she just had sciatica, but it was enough to make them cancel the elopement. She chided Ash for acting strangely whenever Leah mentioned the baby and was horrified to find him and Phoebe comparing notes on the rape. She continued to insist to both Ash and VJ that she didn’t know who raped her, but told Phoebe that Mick was the baby’s father and that no-one could find out. She was uncomfortable when Leah gave her money from her parents for the baby and around Irene, then horrified when she learned Mick had been released, trying to get Irene to appeal the decision then hallucinating seeing him around town and having a panic attack. VJ asked if Mick was the father and she denied it. However, after a chat with Ash about being honest, she admitted the truth but VJ was unhappy about the lies. She also told him about altering the computer records and asking Nate to keep quiet, then went into labour. However, as she and VJ were driving to the hospital the car broke down.
When they were threatened by a bush fire, VJ carried her to safety but at the hospital it was found that her airway was collapsing. Nate wanted to give her a caesarean but she insisted on a natural birth, although she had to be intubated afterwards. They named the baby Lucinda, or Luc, after her brother. However, they felt guilty on seeing Leah’s excitement and Irene’s obliviousness, so decided to tell the truth. Before they could, however, Billie was sent into a panic when Mick turned up at the hospital and asked if he was the father. When Mick subsequently kidnapped Luc, Billie revealed the truth to everyone. Luc was soon recovered and Billie invited Irene, who had helped retrieve her, to be her nan alongside Leah.
She and VJ struggled with looking after Luc, especially when he returned to school, but she rejected Ash’s suggestion that she rely on Irene rather than the Pattersons. She overheard Leah saying she was struggling with knowing the truth, so decided to have a baby blessing ceremony with Ash and Leah as guideparents, going ahead and asking Leah despite VJ’s reservations. In the lead-up, she kept having coughing fits but soldiered on even when she was coughing up blood. However, after the ceremony she collapsed. At the hospital, scans showed a mass blocking her airway and Nate told her she had inoperable, untreatable cancer and had days to live at most. Her friends gathered to support her and VJ asked her to marry him straight away. After a service in the hospital chapel, she asked VJ to take her and Luc down the beach, where she died in his arms as they watched the sun rise.