Dean Thompson (2018-)
Date of Birth: 16th April 1993
Occupation: Labourer; Garage Assistant/Apprentice Mechanic; Board Shop Assistant/Owner; Waiter; Surf Instructor
Dean came to town as the leader of the River Boys summoned by Ash to help him find Robbo. He was soon making his presence felt at Kat’s wake and co-ordinating the other River Boys’ search efforts. Being in Summer Bay also led to a reunion with Willow, who he had had an on-off relationship with since their teens. He and Ash became suspicious of the Morgans after Justin was found in a car Robbo had been seen in and together attempted to interrogate Brody and Mason. They ended up seeing Robbo near the Morgan house and chasing him. Dean and the other River Boys delayed the police while Ash confronted Robbo on a clifftop. Dean was shocked to see his old friend Colby among the police: They had been River Boys together but Colby had disappeared after Dean tried to help him stop his stepfather Ross taking Colby’s mother Michelle and half-sister Bella out of town. The car they had stolen crashed, with Dean being found injured inside and keeping quiet about the fact Colby had been with him, suffering a knee injury that ended his sports career and spending time in jail.
Dean thanked Ash for giving him an excuse to hang out with the River Boys again, noting most of them had lives and families nowadays. However, thanks to being AWOL helping Ash, he lost his job and was evicted by his flatmates for not paying the rent. He tried to flog some stolen tools around town, then went to Willow’s caravan and waited in her bed only for her to turn up with her boyfriend Justin. Ash found him sleeping in his car and he explained he had taken the tools as compensation for unpaid wages. Ash returned them to Dean’s old boss Barry Johnson in exchange for the money, then arranged for himself and Dean to stay at the caravan park and gave Dean a job at the garage. However, Justin quickly sacked him on finding him asleep on the job, then accused him of stealing Willow’s Triumph. He was put out to be investigated by Colby but revealed that he had been doing a job for Ash at the time.
Still unwilling to forgive Colby, he convinced Willow to join him for a party on the beach but then collapsed fitting, with Willow and Colby helping work out he had drunk dodgy home brew. When Willow learned about Colby’s role in his accident, Dean talked her out of going to the police. He tried to cause trouble between Justin and Willow when they looked after Justin’s daughter Ava together and encouraged Ash to give negative testimony after being subpoenaed by Robbo’s lawyer Kurt, then made threatening remarks in front of Ava when he saw Justin talking to Kurt, prompting Willow to tell him to leave them alone. When Ava promptly went missing, Justin suspected Dean and attacked him but Dean offered to help look for her. After learning the Eastons were involved and wanted Willow to hand over the ransom money, Dean convinced Justin to go to the police and waited nearby, scuffling with Boyd Easton when he attacked Willow. Boyd drove his car at Dean and was shot by Colby, although the car still struck Dean a glancing blow, injuring his knee.
When Robbo was revealed as an undercover police officer, Dean joined Ash out in the bush and suggested he might need to stop looking for someone to blame and start grieving. He admitted he saw a psychiatrist in jail and Ash agreed to go away and get help. Dean was left conflicted over Colby saving him but supported him at the police enquiry and they began to rebuild their friendship. He returned to work at the garage and inadvertently helped out Ebony Harding’s plan to get revenge on Justin by agreeing to do a service for her. With Justin and Willow having recently broken up, he went for a drink with her where she kissed him in front of Justin. They ended up spending the night together and, although she regretted it the next morning, he convinced her to carry on going out with him. When he bragged to Justin about it, Justin punched and fired him.
When the press outted Colby as an ex-River Boy, he told Dean he had to stay away from him. He tried to hide a drunken Colby from the police but Colby showed himself to them.With no job, Dean was reliant on Willow paying his rent. He learned from Jasmine that Willow was stealing in order to pay the rent and began to realise Willow had a gambling addiction when he learned she had lost $3200 on a bet after stealing from Ziggy and Brody’s wedding fund. He borrowed money from loan shark Brett Dwyer to return the stolen money before anyone reported it missing. When someone planted the phone used to frame Colby in Willow’s van, Dean stopped Colby reporting her by threatening to tell the police the truth about the car crash. However, it was him and Willow that found Colby after the real culprit, Ebony Harding, had injected him with a muscle relaxant. They and got him to hospital, although Dean was frustrated that none of the River Boys were willing to help an ex-cop. He drunkenly trashed his caravan, resulting in Alf throwing him and Willow out and them squatting at the Diner flat.
Brett then demanded the money back and Dean convinced Willow to set up a credit card skimmer at Salt. They broke in after hours to retrieve it but Dean ended up knocking Alf over and leaving him injured. Willow called an ambulance for him and binned the skimmer, but Dean retrieved it after receiving a beating and a demand for $6000 from Brett. Willow was furious when she found out and tried to sell her car; Dean stopped her but this merely resulted in her gambling again so he went to Justin for help. He broke up with Willow and told Brett he’d work off the debt, refusing Justin’s offer of work at the garage. He collected a bag of money that Brett wanted him to look after which he managed to hide from Robbo and Colby before taking to the city. On his return, he again turned to the forged credit cards to raise money but Ziggy convinced him to destroy them. Brett told him to get the keys and location of the safe for Salt and act as look-out for a robbery, threatening to hurt Willow if he didn’t. Dean went to Colby and Willow for help, managing to hide Brody and Ziggy until the police (alerted by Colby) arrived and arrested everyone, and was released when another gang member fingered Brett as the ringleader.
He then saw Willow being taken away for questioning over the surf club break-in so interrupted her questioning to confess to the break-in, credit card skimming and assault on Alf, saying Willow didn’t know about it until afterwards. He felt unable to carry on living with Colby, while receiving a hostile reception from Alf and also from Irene, who had been among those who had their credit cards copied. He apologised to them and, after Robbo arranged him a motel room for the night, left town. Since he was in danger of missing his bail check-in, Willow sent him a message saying she’d confess if he didn’t turn up. He returned on time and Justin took charge of the situation, arranging Dean a lawyer and convincing Alf to let him stay at the caravan park again. Ziggy encouraged him to also take the job at the garage, where she and Justin were impressed with his car knowledge and suggested he start an apprenticeship. Ziggy joined him in doing a stock take and proceeded to get drunk, which Brody and Colby blamed Dean for. However, this encouraged him to accept the apprenticeship offer.
He began to give advice to Ryder, telling him not to ruin his friendship with Raffy in order to keep his relationship with Coco going. He received his court date and began sleeping with the female caravan park guests, believing he would soon be in jail. One of his targets was Chelsea Campbell, only for him to discover she was both a police officer and Colby’s ex. He was furious to learn Willow had confessed to her part in things and caused a disturbance at the Morgans’, which resulted in the police being called and Chelsea putting him in the cells for a night. He reluctantly accepted Willow’s decision and defended Chelsea when a guy on the beach made comments about her. He continued to hang out with Ryder but also told him to appreciate Alf and Leah looking out for him. When he rang his own mother Karen to tell her about his court appearance, she hung up on him. He proceeded to get drunk and nearly miss court, needing Willow threatening to stay away with him and some straight talking from Justin to sort him out. He was given six month community service and a good behaviour bond but remained in a bad place: He resented the fact that Willow had convinced him to cut ties with Karen when she threatened him with a knife after he got out of prison. He regaled Ryder with stories of the River Boys’ hideout and its secret tunnel and, when Leah and John confronted him about Ryder, Raffy and Coco all being missing, realised they had gone there. Although he helped rescue Raffy from a tunnel collapse, he received serves from both Justin and Colby.
He went round Karen’s and left her a note but walked away on seeing she had a man with her. However, she then turned up at the Morgans’ house and Dean left community service to see her. John threatened to report him which resulted in Karen trying to run John over (with Dean pushing him out of the way) and then crashing nearby. He took her to hospital but was unable to talk her into getting a psych assessment. He hid her from the police in his caravan and tried to get her to see the doctor, but she knocked him unconscious with a frying pan and left the gas on. They were rescued by Willow and Chelsea, and Dean was convinced to get Karen scheduled.
Dean went with Colby to clear Karen’s things out of the house and discovered a letter from old AFL star Rick Booth, who turned out to be Dean’s father: He had been married and had bought the house for them on condition they stay out of his life. When a man broke into the house claiming Karen owed him money, Dean decided neither he nor Karen was going back to Mangrove River. Dean decided to go looking for Rick, reluctantly taking a runaway Ryder with him. He briefly met his half-sister Kayla but Rick didn’t want him to have anything to do with his family. Dean took Ryder home and burned Rick’s letter. Willow convinced him to give Rick another chance but Rick paid him $50,000 to stay away.
Willow then informed him that Justin had asked her to choose between them and she couldn’t hang out with him anymore. When she refused to talk to him during community service, he arranged to do it in Yabbie Creek and quit his job at the garage. This put his parole at risk so Ziggy told him he had a job at the board shop. He arrived to find Ben knew nothing about it but convinced him to employ him on a commission only basis. Ben soon trusted him to keep an eye on the place alone, despite it sending Ziggy into a panic, and he set up a display outside the shop. He decided to use the money he got from Rick to help Colby hire a private detective, Ray Holsten, to look for Bella, with Colby asking him to be his best man at his wedding to Chelsea in return. Holsten contacted him after getting a report that Ross had visited Karen a year after he disappeared and Dean tried to get to see Karen at the hospital. Colby and Chelsea managed to arrange it and, during the visit, Dean learned Karen had been diagnosed with a schizoaffective disorder. She revealed Ross had told her he’d killed Michelle and directed Dean to find a dictaphone among her belongings, which included a recording of Ross admitting to killing Colby’s father.
Colby recruited Dean to find Bella behind the police’s backs after getting the address and Dean had to restrain him from charging in and confronting Ross. Bella proved less than pleased to see them, firing at them with a crossbow, and with her refusing to trust them and Ross on his way back, they ended up kidnapping her. Dean had to take charge, getting Bella to the old River Boy hideout while they tried to talk her round and convincing Colby to play her the recording. He helped Ben open up the new board shop at the surf club but was distracted trying to get Chelsea to give Colby another chance, although he was angry to find out she had told the police Bella was with Colby. He offered to help Ziggy see whether Simone was interested in Brody by chatting her up, but when Brody warned him off he was left feeling it might not be one-sided.
Knowing John didn’t trust him to lock up the surf club after Ben left him the keys, Dean made a point of staying behind until late at night doing a stock take, resulting in John staying as well. He quickly worked out Ryder was sheltering Bella when she ran away and learned Colby was planning to move away after the wedding. He soon after found his feelings for Willow resurfacing and told Willow to let Justin know whether they were still together or not. He helped organise the wedding at short notice with help from some old River Boy contacts where Willow confirmed she and Justin had broken up. He arranged a fireworks display at the reception and admitted to Colby he was hoping he could get back with Willow.
Dean was thrown when the news arrived that Ross had kidnapped Chelsea, Willow and Bella. He accompanied Colby into the bush and a tense stand-off resulted in Ross shooting Willow and then fleeing. Dean joined Colby in chasing him and, after Ross managed to get his car stuck in mud, Dean wrestled Ross to the ground and overpowered him. However, he was unable to talk Colby out of killing Ross in cold blood. Refusing to let Colby go to jail, he convinced him to torch the car and bury the body. He was soon conducting a bedside vigil over Willow, showing little interest in Colby’s ruminations over what to tell Chelsea. He told Willow he loved her as she came round but, after learning Chelsea had left Colby on learning the truth, told him he wasn’t going to get back with her now he was an accessory to murder. He began having nightmares and continued spending the night in Willow’s hotel room so he didn’t go to sleep, confessing the truth to her. Willow arranged a visit from Karen and he told her about Ross’ death and about the nightmares. She told him to get help but instead of going to a doctor he got a dodgy acquaintance, Mutt, to provide him with homemade sleeping pills.
As a result, he overslept and had to be dragged out of bed by Willow, impulsively kissing her. He then sleepwalked to where Ross was buried and began digging up the grave. He was bewildered to wake up the morning with his bare feet cut to shreds and his car moved, then had flashbacks during the day and rushed away from work to rebury the body. He reluctantly put Ryder onto a River Boy who could get marijuana for Raffy. Another sleepwalking session saw him post a confession letter to McCarthy and, on realising what he’d done, he broke into the post box to retrieve it. Even though he was meant to be looking after Bella, he left her with Willow while he went to get more pills. During his next sleepwalk, he tried to drag Bella to where Ross’ body was hidden, having to be stopped by Willow. He told Colby and Willow about the sleeping pills and Colby decided to take him to a motel room and get him to go cold turkey, although he took time to advise Ziggy over her break-up with Brody first. Increasingly delirious, he blamed Colby for messing everything up for them both and then collapsed. He refused to go to hospital so Jasmine was called upon to rehydrate him. He came round after a long sleep to learn Colby intended to turn himself in but accepted it was his decision, although he was also happy when Colby changed his mind.
Learning Ziggy was having a miserable birthday, he invited her back to his van for some beers. She kissed him but he pulled away when she tried to take things further, resulting in her leaving upset. He got Willow to take her home but, when he tried to clear the air the next day, it ended in them having a shouting match in front of Ben and Maggie. When he found Simone at Colby’s flat, he had a go at her even though she was helping Bella. Neither Colby nor Brody was happy but it resulted in him making up with Ziggy. He went clubbing with a group partly to celebrate finishing his community service. There, Willow told him she wanted to be with him but he was annoyed that she was only doing it because she thought he was with Ziggy, telling her they were a mess together before making sure a drunk Ziggy got home. He was frustrated to find Willow waiting for him in his bed, refusing to do anything and criticised her and Colby for failing to respect his decision although he later assured Willow she’d always have a special place in his life.
He tried to talk Ziggy out of spending time with a group of visiting youths and ended up having to step in when one of them, Mark, got heavy with her. After taking Ziggy back to her parents, he returned to his van to find Mark and his friends waiting for him; they beat him up and dumped him in the bush. He was found by Ben but refused to go to hospital so Ben left Ziggy looking after him, where she apologised. He bought her an old wreck of a car to do up in order to give her a distraction. He raced to the police station when Bella called to say she was there, only to learn Colby had taken her into work after she was suspended from school. Despite this, he took Bella away for a chat and told Colby not to use tough love on her. He took $200 from his stash to buy a new radiator for Ziggy’s car and took delight in winding up Brody and Simone when he saw them arguing.
When Ziggy decided to enter a car rally, meaning they had two days to get the car ready, Dean roped in Colby, Willow and Bella to help. Ziggy asked him to partner her and they headed into the outback together. It was only then that he discovered Bella hiding in the car but refused to take her home, calling Colby instead. He and Ziggy set off on the race and got into a rivalry with another couple, Paul and Tanya. Dean kissed Ziggy but she failed to respond. The next day, they ended up covered in seafood that Paul and Tanya had left on their engine and, while getting cleaned up, ended up having sex in the bush. They decided to stay and do the rest of the rally in order to explore the possibility of a relationship. Dean also told Bella off for threatening to go to the police about Colby.
On their return they felt awkard, with Dean avoiding Ben and Maggie, but they eventually resumed their relationship. This led to another run-in with Bella, who thought Ziggy was using Dean. When Bella ended up hitting Colby, Dean tracked her down and reassured her. He then spent the night with Ziggy while her parents were in the city. He spent his lunch hour in bed with her, sneaking out the window when Maggie came home unexpectedly. When he made a sarcastic remark about Brody and Simone leaving, Brody told him he’d never be good enough for Ziggy. Dean responded by going to see Ziggy and telling her he was serious about her. He sneaked in to spend the night with her only to be accosted by Ben and Maggie the next morning who insisted that if he stayed the night he had to stay for breakfast. Ben also began paying him a proper wage with regular hours at the board shop.
Wanting to earn his new position, he began making phone calls and managed to get Mick Scowell, a friend of a friend, to place a large order. He had to tell Ziggy about the money from Rick when she stumbled across it and, when he learned Ben didn’t have the initial outlay for the order, offered him $20,000. Ben was initially suspicious but Dean convinced him to trust him. He accepted help from new Salt owner Mackenzie Booth to smuggle the board blanks into the surf club past John, then learned she was his half-sister, Rick’s daughter from his first marriage. He was reluctant to spend time with her but Colby and Ziggy encouraged him and Mackenzie assured him she had nothing to do with Rick. However, she then revealed that Rick was running for parliament and she wanted Dean’s help to bring him down. Dean refused to take part in the plan.
However, Mackenzie decided to go ahead on her own and Dean was horrified to see Rick in town. He learned Mackenzie was threatening to tell the press about him if Rick didn’t pay her $300,000 but Rick offered to pay for a house for Karen once she got out of hospital. He went to see Karen but was unable to bring himself to tell her about Rick. Ziggy convinced him to spend time with Rick and they went out to his launch together. However, on learning Rick had tried to convince Ziggy to keep him away from Mackenzie, he told Mackenzie to do whatever she liked to him. He was shocked though when this resulted in him and Karen being front page news and him being bugged by reporters, although he refused to back up Rick’s claim to have supported them financially. Rick goaded Dean into punching him and had it photographed, then sent him the photos with a note threatening to go to the police. Dean was initially prepared to brazen it out but when Ziggy, who already had Ben facing charges after drugs were planted in his board order, told him she loved him and begged him not to go to jail, he gave in to Rick’s demands, agreeing to say nothing to the press and keep away from Mackenzie.
The deal became moot when he learned Mackenzie and Rick had called a truce, but when he went round to see her, he found her in bed with Colby. He immediately walked away and, refusing to be caught in the middle, told Colby he wouldn’t stop them being together but didn’t want anything to do with it. With the board shop closed as a result of Ben’s arrest, Dean was in need of a job as part of his parole conditions. Mackenzie offered him a job as a delivery driver and bar staff but he refused, saying he couldn’t trust her. However, after Mackenzie made a disastrous attempt at surfing to prove a point, they talked things over and he agreed to take the job.
He was confused when Bella flinched away when he touched her, until he learned she had been assaulted. He started work at Salt but ignored Mackenzie’s attempts at small talk. However, he then realised that she had no-one in the Bay except him and made an attempt to find out what she was interested in before inviting her to join him and Ziggy for a surf, saying it was the best way to get to know him. He tried to clear the air with Colby but this resulted in Mackenzie learning he had sabotaged their relationship and telling him she didn’t need protecting. He played go between when Colby wrongly believed Ryder had taken advantage of Bella, but as a result he was an hour late for a shift and resigned when Mackenzie gave it to someone else. However, Willow realised he had kept on working there despite not being on probation any longer because he liked working with Mackenzie and he cleared the air with her.
He alerted Ziggy to the fact Ben had moved into the caravan park. Mackenzie gave him money to start a surf school and he offered Ben a job. He was shocked when Karen turned up after being discharged from hospital, since he hadn’t told her about dating Ziggy or about meeting Rick and Mackenzie. He told her about Rick but Bella let slip about Ziggy. He thus had to endure an embarrassing meal with the Astonis. He assumed Karen would leave soon, but when she went for a job at Salt, he admitted who Mackenzie was. Mackenzie managed to win Karen round. When Karen fainted in the course of an altercation during her first shift, Dean accused her of faking it. He realised he was wrong when Alex explained it was a side effect of her medication but reminded Karen how she used to fake faints to get her own way when he was young.
Karen left town, supposedly for a job in Reefton Lakes, and told Ziggy she had her permission to have her grandchildren. Dean told Ziggy that, since Karen’s condition was genetic, he was never going to have children because he didn’t want to put them through the upbringing he had. However, he reconsidered the hopelessness of the situation slightly on learning Karen had voluntarily checked herself back into hospital to get further treatment. He defended Mackenzie to Bella when she planned to call time on things with Colby while also telling her she needed to make a decision. He began offering free surf lessons to drum up business, but when he asked Ben to take one, Ben saw it as charity. He later advised Ben over Karen accepting medical help, saying he needed to listen to the doctors over his depression.
He tried to keep Bella in check after Mackenzie and Colby broke up, only to find her attempting to set fire to Salt. Although he stepped in to advise Ben to talk to a psychologist after he wanted to stop his medication, he became increasingly infuriated at Ziggy booking surf lessons without asking him or taking his shifts at Salt into account. He was even more frustrated when she cancelled his Salt shifts in favour of the free surf lessons when he needed the money. He was pleased to learn the charges against Ben had been dropped but worried that he was expected to help him with the board shop. Mackenzie freed up his time by firing him from Salt and then giving him a loan for the surf school business. Ziggy became concerned about one of his students, Jade Lennox, who was flirting with him. Dean assured her Jade would be gone soon only to find she was now working at Salt. However, he refused to give her any further lessons.
When Ziggy told him she’d been offered a trial with a pit crew, Dean refused to tell her to stay, worried she’d resent him if she did. After chiding Colby for ignoring Mackenzie while Bella was in hospital and failing to get in touch with Ziggy, he went to the race track to find her. However, her initial reaction on seeing him was one of horror and, although she asked him to stick around so they could have lunch, he quickly left when he saw how at home she was, admitting to Ben he felt he was losing her. He pretended he wanted her to get the job, but when she was rejected, a drunken Mackenzie told her the truth. He managed to win Ziggy round, then was asked by Mackenzie to try and keep Colby away from Salt while she tried to get over him. He saw a text on Ziggy’s phone showing she had the job but she said nothing. When Willow told him she was in a same-sex relationship with Alex, Dean got annoyed about people keeping things from him and went to complain to Colby and Bella, standing Ziggy up over dinner. Next day, he cleared the air with Willow but refused to make up with Ziggy, ending the relationship as she left town.
Dean got drunk in Salt and missed a surf lesson before abusing his clients, leaving Ben and Mackenzie to try and repair the damage. Mackenzie took him to the city to try and give him a break but he simply went on a two day bender. Arriving back in town, he was happy to carry on where he left off, camping out at Salt. He flirted with a woman, Carla, and got into a fight with her boyfriend Con, resulting in Colby arresting him, but he was released without charge and received words of encouragement from Ben. He agreed to work a shift at the board shop, then encountered a returned Ziggy who told him she had quit the job but also revealed she’d kissed someone else. He hurried to the hospital with Willow when she suspected something was going on there and they learned Mackenzie and Bella were among a group being held hostage inside. During the chaos when a gunshot rang out and some of the hostages escaped, Dean went into the hospital with Colby. They had to retreat after getting an update from Alex but Dean went back and knocked out one of the hostage takers before quietly speaking with Mackenzie and telling her to get everyone down on the floor when she got the signal. Shortly after, the fire alarm was set off and the hostages were freed by armed police.
He made up with Ziggy but initially had a hard time understanding why she was upset at not attending Mason’s funeral. He made up for it by helping her pay her respects by placing a wreath in the sea. He was shocked to see Ari Parata, who he had been in prison with, in town. Ari told him not to let anyone know he knew him or about his history. He was unhappy to find Alex had asked Willow to move away with her although he did help Ziggy arrange assistance for Justin while Leah was missing. He managed to get the fact Mackenzie was on a blind date out of Ryder and ended up helping drive the date off when he turned out to be an aggressive ex-boyfriend, Jason. He asked Colby if he could move into his spare room and then invited Ziggy to move in as well but she decided it was too soon.
He was left looking after Bella when Colby was in hospital after being stabbed in the leg and struggled with the task, kicking Ryder and Nikau out of the flat when she had them over. Ari accused him of spreading the news of his time in jail around town but Dean insisted he hadn’t and advised Ari to try and make peace with John. He offered to pay Bella’s TAFE fees but was frustrated when she and Nikau took his car without asking. He decided to take Willow away to cheer her up after her split from Alex. On learning that Colby was hoping to get back with Mackenzie but she was spending time with Ari, he asked Ari to stay away from her. However, in something of a reversal, he ended up defending Ari when Colby didn’t consider him good enough for Mackenzie. He comforted Ziggy when she learned Maggie had slept with Ben’s brother Marco twenty years ago and worried he was her father. Ziggy came to stay with him and he supported her as she received the DNA results confirming Ben was her father. He tried to get her to talk to Maggie but it resulted in her storming off, although they made up the next day.
He went along to Colby’s divorce party only to be left watching as Colby became more and more drunk and out of control before complaining about Dean’s perfect life, prompting Dean to say Mackenzie was better off without him. Although he wasn’t happy to promptly see Colby with Mackenzie, they smoothed things over. He was as shocked as Ziggy to learn Ben and Maggie were separating and disappointed when Ziggy decided to move back in with Maggie. However, Ziggy quickly decided to stay with him permanently. They arranged a date night but it was interrupted by Willow, so instead Dean suggested they go away for a surfing competition. Ziggy said she was too busy at work so Dean went to Justin to arrange time off, only to find Ziggy less than impressed with his interference.
He challenged Ben over spending time with Gemma, then got a call from Bella asking him to pick her up from the equine therapy centre where she’d been undergoing treatment. After Bella explained she wanted to make her own choices, Dean pointed out to Colby that he just needed to ask her about celebrating her birthday and later tried to dissuade him from believing Ari was involved in the Diner robbery. He took Ziggy away for their anniversary and gave her a necklace, with her getting a tattoo in return. Afterwards, they learned her parents had reunited.
When Ben and Maggie decided to move to Italy, they offered Dean and Ziggy the farm house. They declined but Dean did agree to take over the board shop. He was upset when Ziggy said she’d have no-one when her parents left and when he then saw her crying over her wedding album. However, she assured him she was going to apply for a divorce. He was a very reluctant confidante for Mackenzie when she admitted to being attracted to Tane. Shortly after, he was reunited with Amber Simmons, an old friend from Mangrove River and sister of his late friend Jai, who he had had a fling with after coming out of jail. He quickly told her he had a girlfriend and tried to warn Colby she was in town.
When Ross’ body was discovered, Dean worried he had left evidence at the scene but stuck to the agreed story when interviewed by Angelo. On discovering that Bella and Nikau had run off to Mount Currawong, he decided to go after them with Ari and Tane, only to be stopped by Amber, who revealed they had a son, Jai. He shared the information with Ziggy, who supported him, as did Colby and Willow. He then asked Amber if he could meet Jai and they spent time together without Jai knowing Dean was his father, although he struggled to get Amber to make a firm commitment. Jai eventually realised Dean was his father but it came at the cost of Ziggy distancing herself from him and moving back to the farm. Dean convinced her to join him for dinner at Salt and tried to get her to agree to working together to have Jai in their lives. Although he was pleased when Amber asked him to look after Jai for the day while she worked with John, he asked her how things were going to work moving forward. When he learned of Colby’s affair with Angelo’s wife Taylor, he cancelled spending time with Jai and turned down Ziggy’s offer to move back in. This resulted in Amber banning him from seeing Jai. He confessed the truth to Ziggy and she threw him out.
When Ziggy made it clear things were over, Dean tracked Amber down and kissed her. He took her back to the flat but she left on learning he’d only just broken up with Ziggy. Colby punched him on he’d told Ziggy and Dean drunkenly told Angelo to keep an eye on Taylor, before Willow took him out of town in an attempt to calm him down. Shortly after his return, Amber asked him to have Jai for the night but he was concerned when he found Jai had a temperature. After asking first Ziggy and then Tori for help, he was told Jai had an ear infection. When Amber turned up next morning after getting drunk and sleeping with a random man, Dean refused to let her take Jai until after she’d sobered up. Angelo then approached him and said he knew Colby killed Ross and was going to prove it, offering Dean a lighter sentence in exchange for giving evidence. Dean contemplated it to be there for Jai but ultimately told Angelo nothing. On learning Amber had been out of work since she stopped looking after John, he tried to give her money but she refused. However, she agreed to him buying Jai a bike for his birthday and promised to come to him if she really did need help.
He tried to convince Amber to let Karen meet Jai but she refused point blank, remembering Karen from when Dean was growing up. He decided to put the matter aside to enjoy Jai’s birthday, but was bothered by the presence of Amber’s mother Francesca, who made it clear she disapproved of him being part of Jai’s life, while Amber threatened to ban him from seeing Jai if he didn’t drop the idea of Karen meeting him. Dean understood her argument that Karen could still relapse but wanted to go to court and get proper access. Francesca warned him he’d regret it if he did. After receiving a threatening note, Dean found Francesca had left Jai alone so took him to the house of some old River Boy friends. Colby tracked him down and Dean eventually accepted Jai would miss Amber and returned him to her. After days of silence, Amber turned up with Jai and they spent the evening together. However, after Amber and Jai had visited again the next morning, Willow voiced her suspicions about Amber’s claim to be taking Jai to school. Dean found Amber and Jai had both gone. He managed to talk to Amber on the phone but she said she had to get Jai away from him and Francesca, leaving Dean devastated that Jai would think he’d abandoned him.
When Colby was arrested, Dean first accused Nikau of reporting him and then considered turning himself in. Both Willow and Ziggy tried to dissuade him and he stopped Colby menacing Ziggy when he thought she was the one who had spoken to the police. Despite this, Dean was keen to find out who the witness was, but it wasn’t until halfway through the trial that he learned it was Willow. He watched Colby sent to jail and refused to forgive Willow even though she insisted she had been trying to keep him from joining Colby in jail. Frustrated that everyone saw him as a source of information on Colby, he got drunk and turned up at Ziggy’s place asking her to take him back. When she refused to discuss it, he drove off and was found by Ziggy and Tane passed out at the wheel. He continued to pester Ziggy next day, turning up at the garage to try and talk to her, and was sent away by Tane, who he felt with some justification was taking his place in Ziggy’s life.
When Mackenzie refused to serve him at Salt, he disappeared to Mangrove River where he spent most of his time in bars, as well as getting involved in a fight and having a casual hook-up with an old acquaintance, Tammy. He was eventually found by Ari who convinced him to return to Summer Bay and try to support Bella. However, he was still upset when he was told by Ziggy they were definitely over.
After being informed Colby was in hospital after being attacked in prison, Dean arranged for the River Boys to cause a disturbance so he and Bella could sneak in to see him. However, he told Bella that Colby would be killed once he went back, prompting Ari to convince him to moderate his views. He learned Ari and Tane were being blackmailed by drug dealers Paul and Leon into carrying out an armed robbery at the Reefton Lakes Leagues Club and realised it was River Boy territory and they would be blamed. He told the pair to make sure Paul and Leon were there then arrived with Heath Braxton and a group of River Boys, who took Paul away to explain the rules. He visied Colby to say goodbye, since he didn’t feel able to visit him in prison, and told him to do whatever it took to survive. John convinced him to accompany Bella on a visit but they were turned away since Colby was in solitary confinement. Dean was handed a letter from Colby saying he didn’t want people visiting him. He then learned from Bella that Colby had killed one of his attackers and ended up on a second murder charge. He felt guilty that his advice had caused it, even though it meant Colby was safe, but Bella reassured him and he arranged to put the flat in both their names.
When Ziggy spoke to him, Dean thought they were getting back together until she revealed there was someone else: Tane. Although unhappy, he made it through his first encounter with the couple but told Ziggy they weren’t friends anymore. Willow returned to town and Dean initially walked away from her, but stopped Bella attacking her and later talked things over and cleared the air. Willow then summoned Amber and Jai, who spent the day with Dean and who he asked to spend the night at the flat and then to move in so Jai could go back to his old school. Mackenzie confided in him that she and Ari had broken up and he didn’t know she was pregnant, prompting Dean to try and convince her to tell him. With Amber also supporting Mackenzie, she and Dean bonded further. He told her he wanted to be with her and they slept together.
He didn’t feel comfortable taking Mackenzie to an abortion when Ari didn’t know about it but changed his mind when Ziggy had a go at him. However, Mackenzie decided to go on her own anyway, but the next morning Dean found her collapsed at home and rushed her to hospital, where it turned out she’d had an ectopic. He realised Jai was expecting him to win tickets to Movie World at the surf carnival, which was in danger of being cancelled after Susie McAllister stole most of the money raised. Dean determined to make sure it happened. Learning John was needed as the only person who knew the arrangements, he tracked him down hiding in his house, luring him out by repeatedly setting off his car alarm and convincing him to try and make up for his mistakes. He saved Justin from drowning after a surfing accident and offered his services to Alf and Roo for the carnival, chasing up more sponsors and arranging friends to work as judges and stewards. He reacted badly when Willow decided to leave town to try and reunite with Alex, but after a talking to from Amber, he wished her well. He told Amber he wanted another baby some day and convinced Nikau to support Bella when she used a photo of him taken without consent to win a competition. He was thrown when Amber told him she loved him; although he wasn’t able to say it back, he assured her he was committed. He was crowned male champion of the surf carnival alongside Ziggy, claiming the tickets to Movie World that Jai had craved. However, Amber accused him of still loving Ziggy and he admitted it was true. Although he wanted to keep the family together, Amber felt they wouldn’t be happy. She left town with Jai but promised Dean would always be his father and they would arrange formal access. He also had to admit the truth about his feelings to Ziggy.
He learned Ziggy had kicked Mackenzie out for making a pass at Tane and found her getting drunk at a motel, insisting she move home with him. However, he struggled to get her to focus on running Salt. He was thrown to learn Ziggy was now living with Tane and took it as a cue to head to Movie World with Jai and Amber. On his return, he was caught in the crossfire between Mackenzie and Ryder when the latter set up a food truck in competition to Salt. Realising Bella was excited about a photography exhibition she and her mentor Emmett were putting on, Dean put a stop to Emmett’s liasons with Mackenzie so he wouldn’t be distracted. However, Mackenzie continued to invite other men back, and when Amber asked Dean to look after Jai for a week, he decided to look after him at her place rather than bring him back to Summer Bay. Shortly after his return, he had to collect Mackenzie from the Paratas’ after she gatecrashed Nikau’s party. The experience seemed to have a sobering effect on Mackenzie but then she disappeared with Dean concerned enough to report her as missing to the police. He asked Ryder to keep an eye on Salt and was shocked when a woman’s body was found in the water. However, as he was trying to find out if it was Mackenzie, she turned up alive and well. She told him she wanted to move out but, worried about her disappearing again, Dean set up camp in Salt watching her until she called police officer Cash Newman to have him removed, after which he accepted her decision. He helped out after the food truck explosion and talked Mackenzie out of leaving town when Ryder blamed her. He tried to help Justin when he found him getting drunk in Salt but Justin asked him to get him some painkillers, and when Dean tried to take him home he found out he’d been kicked out by his family. He told Ziggy not to give Mackenzie a hard time when she tried to make amends.
Tane filled him in on the fact Nikau had cheated on Bella and he called Emmett to help her. He also agreed to Mackenzie moving back in. He travelled to Bella’s exhibition with Ziggy and ended up taking her aside and kissing her, only to leave in a huff when she wouldn’t agree to getting back together. He went to see Jai and ordered Ziggy out of the flat on his return.
On learning that Nikau had run away, Dean offered Mia a lift to pick him up, explaining that Ari had served an extra two years for protecting him from a beating in jail. However, on the way back, Dean swerved to avoid a kangaroo and crashed, being left poised on the edge of a cliff. When he came to, he was trapped in the car, with his pelvis smashed. He was treated at the scene by Doctor Logan Bennett, who rushed him to hospital and performed emergency surgery in the ED. He was confused when Ziggy was one of his most frequent visitors and revealed she and Tane had broken up. She told him she still loved him and they reunited. However, he was reluctant to co-operate with his physio, especially with Ziggy present, until Logan badgered him. Although he made progress, the flat wasn’t suitable for him so Ziggy suggested he move in with her. When Ari mentioned that it was Tane who broke up with Ziggy, Dean asked her if they’d be together if he hadn’t but, after talking it over with him both her and Bella, accepted it didn’t matter how they’d got back there.
However, he refused to take his painkillers, recalling his earlier experience with sleeping tablets. Logan suspected he had PTSD. Dean asked Ziggy to go away, feeling he wouldn’t get better with her there, and let Logan give him a morphine injection so he could sleep. He was eventually convinced to go on his medication, with Mackenzie moving in with him. He was less than pleased when Ziggy turned up, with Mackenzie having claimed Dean wanted her to return. However, when Mackenzie moved out and Ziggy turned up with gym equipment to help with his rehab, he was forced to accept her help. He asked her if they’d be living together if not for his accident and she admitted it had fast-tracked things but asked him to move in permanently. She suggested he have Jai stay over, although Jai wasn’t too keen about Ziggy’s presence at first. He was accidentally knocked to the ground by Bella while trying to break up an argument at the surf club, leaving him in greater pain. Forced to look for a new surf tutor, he agreed to give Ziggy a try. He asked Nikau to keep an eye on her but only learned there had been an accident when he saw a photo of it on social media. He had to sack her, which came as a relief to her.
He worried about the fact he hadn’t been fit enough to have sex since the accident and asked Logan, who suggested he might be in good enough shape if he could climb the stairs to Salt. Dean tried to do so but was left in extreme pain, although he and Ziggy managed to do the deed while he was in hospital overnight for skin grafts. He was less pleased when Logan told him he could drive again, ending up panicking when he got behind the wheel, but managed to get started with Ziggy’s support. He offered to sack Bella from Salt, thinking it would be good news, but instead she was devastated. He practised surfing in the front room but injured himself jumping onto the board. He resisted Ziggy’s suggestion to go back in the water and Logan admitted there were no guarantees. He became convinced Logan was to blame, remembering he and Tori had argued over his best treatment, and insisted he’d never surf again, accusing Logan of ruining his life. Logan won him over with beer and pizza then helped him take lessons in the water to build up his strength, although he continued to sell his boards and was annoyed when Ziggy bought one back, with her apologising. However, thanks to Logan’s training, he did surf again.