Felix Dean, a child star on the long-running soap opera Home and Away, was caught using methamphetamine when he was 15 years old.
Dean started smoking cannabis at the age of 14 and went on to ‘ice’ within a year, first inhaling and later injecting the powerful narcotic.
On Tuesday, as he faced punishment for a number of odd crimes throughout Sydney, the actor’s turbulent past was detailed in court.
Dean received his big break on Home and Away when he was eight years old, playing Ada Nicodemou’s on-screen son VJ Patterson from 2007 to 2014.
He had been acting for three years prior to attending the programme and was ‘constantly surrounded’ by adults, producing a ‘very different and strange experience,’ according to Central Local Court.
Dean’s early celebrity on Home and Away had been a ‘double-edged sword’ throughout his upbringing, according to solicitor Elliot Rowe.
His drug use had developed into a “long-standing addiction to quite debilitating substances,” which had led to “the irrational behaviour that he was exhibiting.”
Last year, Dean was imprisoned for 86 days before being released into the care of his mother under strict bail conditions, according to Mr Rowe.
After spending 37 days in Gordon Private Hospital, he was placed on effective home detention until his addiction resurfaced in June.
‘That’s when everything really started to fall apart,’ Mr Rowe explained.
Dean, now 24, has been in prison again since October, when he attacked a tobacconist with a hammer, his fourth arrest in two years.
He admitted to attacking police officers, affray, assault with the goal to rob, being armed with the intent to commit an indictable offence, two counts of recklessly destroying property, and shoplifting.
Mr Rowe had requested that Dean be released from jail and placed in a residential rehabilitation institution, but Judge Alison Viney sentenced him to extra time in prison.
Dean appeared via video link from John Morony Correctional Centre in Sydney’s north-west, sporting a jail green T-shirt and shorts.
Dean’s recent homes include Erskineville, Redfern, Randwick, Kellyville, and a Harris Park rehab facility, according to court records.
Dean’s most recent legal difficulties began when he checked into room 3708 at the Meriton Suites Hotel on Kent Street in Sydney on May 23, 2020.
Dean drove his Subaru WRX sedan straight through an automatic security barrier in the vehicle park the next morning after checking out, inflicting $7,624.93 in damage.
Dean pleaded guilty to wilfully damaging property and was sentenced to a nine-month conditional release order after failing to report what happened to employees.
Dean had previously been charged with nine offences ranging from assault to larceny, according to a statement of facts at the time. He was receiving $1,000 from Centrelink and lived in an Airbnb.
Dean’s second major run-in with the law occurred early last year, when he assaulted an Uber driver and damaged another man’s windshield.
By that time, he was homeless and sleeping in hotels across Sydney on a sporadic basis, with the NSW Trustee & Guardian in charge of his funds and paying him a weekly stipend of $150.
That body also covered his living expenses, while he had a leased investment property in Botany, with weekly rent of $330 going into his trustee account.
Dean had been drinking with a companion in a park behind King Street in Newtown on January 6 when a neighbour noticed him urinating outside his flat shortly before 9 p.m.
‘Come on mate, people live here, what are you doing?’ exclaimed a local. ‘Do you want a fight?’ Dean asked, laughing.
Dean grabbed up a bottle and broke one of his windows when the man dialled Triple Zero and showed the unemployed actor his phone screen.
Dean was standing on a walkway near Erskineville Road when an Uber driver went by and turned into Wilson Street around an hour later.
Dean dashed in front of the car, slapped the hood, flung open the car door, and began punching the driver in the head and face.
‘Get out of the car, you fking c,’ Dean said to the driver, who kicked him in the stomach, shut the door, and drove away.
The assault on the Uber driver was caught on camera, and Dean pleaded guilty to assault with intent to rob and willfully damage property in May of last year.
The assault on the Uber driver, according to Magistrate Viney, was unprovoked, nasty, and spontaneous. Mr Rowe claimed Dean was so inebriated that he couldn’t recall what happened.
Dean’s second encounter with the cops was on September 18 in Paddington, when he disobeyed a Covid-19 directive.
He had been drinking in violation of a Public Health Order at a friend’s house, and when police arrived to deal with a disturbance, he kicked one of them in the leg. On Tuesday, Dean pleaded guilty to the two charges.
Dean was granted bail following the incident under tight restrictions, including a 6 p.m. curfew and random drug and alcohol tests.
Dean was then apprehended just before midnight on October 11 outside the TSG Tobacconist in Elizabeth Street, Surry Hills.
After stealing a phone, Dean punched the shopkeeper in the face and then returned to attack him with a hammer.
The fact that no one was hit with the weapon, according to Magistrate Viney, was “more a result of good luck than good strategy.”
Dean was then denied bail and has remained in detention since since.
In connection with the tobacconist incident, he entered guilty pleas to being armed with a weapon to conduct an indictable offence, affray, and larceny (shoplifting) on Tuesday.
A charge of assault causing actual bodily harm and two counts of ordinary assault were dropped by police.
Dean had a “severe drug and alcohol problem,” according to Magistrate Viney, who observed that he had been offered opportunities to address those concerns in the past but had failed to do so.
Ms Viney also discovered Dean to be a bright young guy who had faced major challenges during his youth and had been nurtured solely by a caring mother.
Dean had ‘well-documented mental health concerns,’ including post-traumatic stress disorder and major depressive disorder, according to the report.
Ms Viney sentenced Dean to 19 months in jail, with a minimum of 11 months, for his violent offending, which was backdated to July 11 last year to account for the time he had already spent in custody.
On June 10, he will be eligible for release.
Ms Dean fined Dean $1,000 and placed him on a community correction order, requiring him to be of good behaviour for the next 12 months while accepting supervision to help him overcome his addictions.
Dean, before his two most recent arrests, referred to himself as a “work in progress” in a social media post from August.
He posted on Facebook, “From the affluent life to struggle street to finding my feet.” ‘If you underestimate me, that makes two of us.’
Since leaving Home and Away as a 17-year-old, when he was replaced in the long-running soap by Matt Little, Dean has not had an acting credit.
Dean’s on-screen mother Nicodemou remarked at the time that after their years together on the show, she saw him as a “surrogate son.”
Dean was nominated for Best Young Actor at the Inside Soap Awards in 2008 and 2009 for his role as VJ Patterson. After the performance, he vanished completely from the limelight.
Ms Dean expressed her optimism that whenever Dean was freed from prison, he would be able to overcome his drug problems.
‘Thank you, Your Honour,’ he expressed his gratitude.