Thomas O’Reilly (2019)
Date of Birth: 21st June 1993
Address: 14 Manson Street, Reefton Lakes NSW 2497
When Bella Nixon was having trouble completing an assignment for school, Roo Stewart suggested the use of an online study forum where she could compare notes with other students. Signing up to one such site, Bella quickly found herself talking privately with a member named “Tomcat”, also known as Tommy.
During the evening’s conversation the subject of parents came up, and an unguarded Bella told Tommy that her parents were dead and she lived with “an old lady and my brother’s friend”.
Bella later aced her assignment and Tommy was amongst the members who congratulated her. Talking privately that evening, Bella told Tommy that she was moving back in with her brother as Irene was going away, something she was looking forward to. Tommy immediately tried to put Bella off the idea by reminding her that it hadn’t worked before when she and Colby were fighting, and she was better off staying put. Tommy eventually swayed Bella, who decided to stay at the Beach House with Jasmine and Willow when Irene left for London. Tommy thought that was awesome news.
When Raffy became curious about this new friend who was giving Bella advice, Bella showed Raffy the forum and started up a conversation with Tommy, Raffy being naturally wary and telling Bella not to mention her own name. After some time watching Bella chat with Tommy, Raffy became increasingly anxious and closed the laptop, telling Bella that she could not keep sharing such personal information with a stranger. She tried to explain that Bella may not be aware of the dangers of the internet given her sheltered upbringing, but Bella told her she knew what she was doing and accused Raffy of being jealous. Bella told her Tommy had been there for her and asked Raffy to leave.
With some of Raffy’s words playing on her mind, Bella asked Tommy how she could be sure he was who he said he was. Tommy replied that mates trust each other and left the chat. The next day an upset Bella tried to apologise to Tommy and he replied with the same question she had asked him. Wanting to show Tommy that he could trust her, Bella offered to send a photo of herself. After receiving the photo, Tommy then admitted to Bella that he wasn’t a high school student as she thought, and claimed he was a twenty five year old school teacher.
Bella left the house to clear her head and on her return, asked why she shouldn’t cut him off. He replied that they had a connection. She asked if he talked to other kids like this, to which he said no. Bella was special. She asked whether he could really help her do better at school, and Bella agreed to keep talking.
When Bella later had to do an assignment on Perception vs Reality, Tommy told her that he had a great idea. She should take some self-portraits, showing the real Bella vs the one she shows everyone else. He quickly suggested that she take some photos and send them over so he can give feedback. Bella came around to the idea but was disappointed when the school didn’t have any available camera equipment for her to use. When she told Tommy, he said he had a better idea but it was a surprise. He would only need one thing from her—her address. Although she hesitated for a second, she gave him the address.
The next morning Tommy told her that her surprise was waiting outside the back door. There she found a hand-delivered gift box with a Digital SLR camera inside. As Bella excitedly unpacked the box, it was revealed to viewers that Tommy was watching her every move through her laptop’s in-built webcam.
Bella expressed her gratitude but said it was too much, and Tommy replied that she could consider it as a loan. Bella enlisted Raffy (who was unaware that Bella was still talking to Tommy) to help with the assignment, and they took a selfie together. Tommy liked all but one of the photos, the one that Bella claimed showed the real her, dolled up in makeup and a dress. He told her that she was much more interesting than that—he wanted to see her being vulnerable. She retook the photo, looking a little scared, and it met his approval.
The following week Bella received a ticket through the mail from Tommy for a photography exhibition in the city. When Bella told Tommy that she couldn’t make it, he offered to pick her up himself and asked to exchange numbers. Having arranged to meet Tommy at the bus stop, Raffy approached Bella whilst she was waiting. When Bella wouldn’t give a clear answer about who she was meeting, Raffy was suspicious and told her she’d wait with her. Unbeknownst to them however, Tommy had spotted Bella with Raffy and parked up further up the road. Frustrated that Bella wasn’t on her own, he drove past them as they gave up waiting.
Chatting to Tommy later on, he gave the excuse of a flat car battery and asked if she could skip Robbo and Jasmine’s wedding to go with him tomorrow. He eventually talked her into it, and Bella convinced Irene into letting her stop at home. As Bella got ready to leave, Tommy unexpectedly arrived at the door. As she had not yet seen his photo, he had to introduce himself, and explained he was running early so figured he’d pick her up. An excited Bella let him in.
As Tommy played around with the camera he’d bought Bella, taking photos of her, Bella said that they should be heading off. But Tommy was reluctant to leave. Seeing that Bella was becoming wary, Tommy apologised and said that he thought they had a connection and was just hoping to spend some time together. Feeling a little guilty after what Tommy had done for her, Bella reluctantly agreed to hang out at the beach house instead of heading to the exhibition, and Tommy asked to see some more of her photos.
As they went through the photos, Tommy’s mood turned when he saw a photo of Ryder. He asked who he was and why Bella hadn’t mentioned him, but she just said he was a friend from school. Feeling very uncomfortable, Bella excused herself to go to the bathroom, reaching for her phone. Anticipating this, Tommy quick snatched the phone and said he’d have a look at some of the photos on there that she’d been telling him about.
Bella locked herself in the bathroom for some time and didn’t answer when Tommy shouted through the door. An angry Tommy told her that he was done with her, and Bella heard the front door close. She gingerly left the bathroom, only for Tommy to grab her from behind, having hidden in the kitchen. As she struggled he told her to stop it as he only wanted to be friends, and she bit his arm to escape his grasp. Cornered, she asked why he was doing this, and Tommy said he was sick of girls like her making promises that they’re not willing to keep. He backed her into the downstairs bedroom and locked the door behind them.
Tommy told her that it wasn’t supposed to be like this, Bella tried to win him over by offering to offering to talk and show him some more photos, but he balked at the idea of seeing more of “that boy”. After telling Tommy that she really did like him, he asked if her could kiss her. Bella eyed up a large vase on the bedside table, but as she lunged forward to grab it, Tommy pinned Bella down onto the bed, angry at her lies and forcibly kissed her.
Bella started screaming just as Irene returned home, and Irene rushed into the bedroom to find Tommy on top of Bella. Seeing the vase herself, she used it to hit Tommy over the head, and rushed Bella out of the room.
As Irene asked whether she’d been hurt, a dazed and bloodied Tommy emerged from the bedroom and said everything was alright, there’d just been a misunderstanding. As Irene yelled at him to get out before she called the cops, Tommy told them that the cops didn’t need to know, he was leaving and it would just be “our little secret”.
As these words rang around Irene’s head, being the same words Irene’s uncle had used when he abused her as a teenager, Irene screamed and grabbed an empty champagne bottle from the kitchen, bludgeoning Tommy to the floor.
As a shell-shocked Irene sat in a stupor, she told Bella to ring for an ambulance. Thinking that Irene would get arrested, Bella eventually took charge and the two of them took Irene’s car and dumped Tommy outside the A&E department at Northern Districts Hospital, with Irene later putting Tommy’s wallet and keys in the diner’s wheelie bin.
The following week, the Coastal News ran a story about the unidentified man dumped at the hospital who was currently in a coma. Bella immediately went to the student forums and deleted her messages with Tommy before removing the account. A few days later with no further information having been received, the police released a photo to the paper of Tommy in his hospital bed, in the hope that someone could identify him. As the story caused intrigue with Summer Bay’s residents, Irene and Bella worked to cover things up and keep their façade.
When Tommy’s car, which had been sitting on Irene’s street for some time, was reported to the police, Colby traced the owners licence details and realised he had found their John Doe. Realising it was only a matter of time, Irene told Bella that she was going to the police station to confess. An upset Bella then found Colby and told him the whole story as he drove her to the police station to meet Irene.
On the way back from the police station, Leah took Irene to the hospital to look in on a comatose Tommy and she had flashbacks to the attack as she stared at him through the door.
When Colby later searched Tommy’s home in Reefton Lakes, he found a folder on Tommy’s computer containing Bella’s photos, alongside numerous other folders labelled with girls names.
Meanwhile at the hospital Tommy went into arrest, before eventually regaining consciousness. Colby later visited him to tell him that he was under arrest for the attempted sexual assault of a minor, as well as two counts of child pornography and the grooming of a minor. A defiant Tommy told Colby that he was the victim here, but Colby told him to shut up as he explained that he was going to be charged, and Tommy was handcuffed to the bed.
With the Coastal News still running stories of Tommy being a victim and a local woman being charged, Leah contacted them to insist they should look further into the story. The paper eventually ran a story detailing the upgraded charges that were being laid against Tommy, and Leah later helped Irene publish a vlog that explained to her loved ones what had happened.
In the weeks leading up to her trial, Irene received news from her lawyer, Sam, that Tommy intended to sue Irene should she be found guilty of the assault.
Despite not appearing on the witness list, Tommy made an unexpected appearance at the trial to testify against Irene, being wheeled in by one of his nurses. Although Irene’s lawyer argued that his presence was prejudicial to the defence, the judge allowed Tommy to take the stand. Tommy gave his version of events, claiming that he and Bella had begun to get intimate before she changed her mind, and Irene had come home and simply got the wrong end of the stick. Irene angrily exclaimed that he was lying but was silenced by the judge, and Tommy started to break down.
When Bella later arrived in court with Colby and took the witness stand, she was shocked to find Tommy coldly staring at her from the other side of the room. As Bella began to explain the truth about what happened, she faltered and started to break down, at which point Colby forcibly stopped the proceedings and took a lunge towards Tommy, before being removed by the court officials. Tommy gave a wry smile to his lawyer, feeling that his plan was working and that Colby’s outburst could be detrimental to Irene’s case.
The next day Bella returned to the court with renewed strength and an added boost from Irene’s support group, headed by Teresa Masterson, who were demonstrating outside. Bella gave her full account to the courtroom in front of Tommy, and stated in no uncertain terms that Tommy was a rapist – who would have raped her had Irene not stopped him.
Tommy remained present for the rest of the trial, and was visibly pleased when Irene was found guilty on all charges. Although not seen on-screen, he was said to be annoyed when the judge was lenient in her sentencing by placing Irene on a good behaviour bond.
A few days later, Irene heard from her lawyer that Tommy was going ahead with the civil case against her, and was claiming for $1,000,000. Taking her lawyer’s advice, Irene decided to put her house on the market with the intention of settling out of court, but Leah convinced Irene to talk to the support group first in case someone else had gone through a similar situation.
When Teresa came to find Irene and Leah after their session, she tried to convince them that they should go after Tommy. Realising that Teresa’s intentions were entering dangerous territory, Irene and Leah attempted to distance themselves from her. Irene later met up with Teresa again who asked her if she cared that Tommy was going to walk free. Irene told her that her hands were tied, and that she had to obey the law.
The next day, a dazed Teresa turned up outside the diner covered in blood. She told Irene that she had done what “she wanted” and fixed things—Irene’s hands may have been tied, but her own hands weren’t. A shocked Irene exclaimed that she’d never wanted this to happen. Teresa was arrested and confessed to murdering Tommy. Constable Murray later brought word that Tommy had been found dead in the grounds of the rehab centre with multiple stab wounds, and the knife was found nearby. Irene and Leah visited Teresa at the police station to make it known that they in no way condoned of what Teresa did. Teresa showed no remorse, accusing them of just wanting to keep their hands clean.
A few days later, Irene received word that Tommy’s family were not going to be pursuing the lawsuit against her.