Felix Dean, a promising young actor, moved from Summer Bay to “struggle street” when life in the spotlight forced him to begin taking methamphetamine when he was 15 years old.
After a tragic spiral into violence, crime, and drug abuse, the actor who rose to stardom on Home and Away will be held in prison until July.
Dean’s tumultuous background was exposed in Central Local Court on Tuesday as he faced punishment for a series of violent crimes.
His acting career began when he was barely seven years old, according to the court, when he was thrown into the spotlight and “constantly surrounded by adults.”
Dean had “quite a strange and unusual experience as a child,” according to criminal solicitor Elliot Rowe.
Dean got his big break at the age of ten, co-starring with Ada Nicodemou as her on-screen son in the Channel 7 show “VJ” from 2007 to 2010.
While the early fame may have seemed like the role of his dreams to others, Rowe claimed it was a “double-edged sword” for him throughout his formative years.
He attended St Stanislaus’ College in Bathurst, NSW Central West, at the same time, before moving on to other schools, including the prestigious Kings School in Sydney.
Rowe told the court that he was sexually abused at the King’s School between the ages of four and six and that he has subsequently been diagnosed with PTSD.
Dean began consuming cannabis at the age of 14 and subsequently began using “ice” while working on the soap drama, according to the court.
Recreational drug use in his late teens developed into a “long-standing addiction to debilitating narcotics,” which led to his criminal behavior.
Dean has not had an acting job since leaving Home And Away as a 17-year-old when he was replaced by Matt Little. For his portrayal of VJ Patterson, Dean was nominated for Best Young Actor at the 2008 and 2009 Inside Soap Awards.
Descent into crime
Dean had been charged with nine previous crimes, including a charge of common assault in 2018, for which he was discharged without conviction and told to seek treatment for his chronic substance abuse. Magistrate Alison Viney revealed to the court that Dean had been involved in previous crimes resulting in nine previous charges, including a charge of common assault in 2018, for which he was discharged without conviction and told to seek treatment for his chronic substance abuse.
According to the court, he was again discharged under the Mental Health Act in November 2019 for two charges of common assault in a domestic violence situation.
In May 2020, he booked into room 3708 at Sydney’s luxury Meriton Studies Hotel, where he drove his Subaru WRX sedan straight through an automatic security gate in the car park, incurring $7,624.93 in damage.
The 24-year-old pleaded guilty to wilfully destroying property after failing to report what had happened to staff.
Dean was given a conditional release order without a conviction because he sought therapy for his drug addiction.
Dean, on the other hand, appears to have disregarded the advice to seek help and ended up back in court in January 2021.
Attack on Uber driver
Dean had been given many chances to go to rehab for his drug problems, but on January 6, 2021, he attacked an Uber driver and damaged another man’s glass, resulting in another significant run-in with the cops.
Dean was drinking with a companion in a park behind King St in Newtown at 7 p.m. when he urinated outside a man’s bedroom window, according to court documents.
The 24-year-old was questioned by the resident, who saw and opened the window slightly.
Dean laughed and said “do you want to fight?” before the man threatened to call the police and dialled triple 0, showing the former actor his phone screen.
The 24-year-old grabbed an empty alcohol bottle from a nearby park and threw it at the building, shattering a window in the process.
He fled the scene, stopping an Uber driver on his way to pick up a customer later that night, attacking him and attempting to force him out of the vehicle.
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.
According to court documents Dean swung both fists at the man while yelling “get out of your car you fking ct” but the man managed to push him off and drive away.
Dean pled guilty to assault with intent to rob and willfully destroy property in May of last year after the attack on the Uber driver was filmed on dashcam.
Dean was homeless, according to court documents, and occasionally stayed in hotels or with friends across Sydney, while the NSW Trustee and Guardian was in charge of his finances.
While the body was paying for his lodging, Dean kept an investment property in Botany and sent $330 each week into the Trustee account.
On Tuesday, Rowe claimed Dean was so inebriated that he had no recollection of the incident, while Magistrate Viney called the Uber driver’s attack “unprovoked, nasty, and spontaneous.”
He was held in detention on remand for 86 days before being granted bail on April 9 and transferred to Gordon Private Hospital’s rehabilitation program, where he stayed for only 37 days.
Dean’s drug problems “had really fallen off the wagon” in June, according to Rowe, who testified in court.
A work in progress
Dean referred to himself as a “work in progress” in a social media post in August, two months before his incident.
“From the good life to struggle street to finding my feet,” he wrote on Facebook.
“Underestimate me, at least that makes two of us.”
Dean’s next run-in with the cops happened on September 18th, while he was drinking at a friend’s Paddington house amid Sydney’s severe Covid lockdown.
Police were summoned after the two got into a brawl, but Dean couldn’t give proof of address, so officers declared him “drunk and smelling strongly of alcohol.”
The unemployed actor became irritated with the officers and raised his voice.
Officers led him out of the premises and into a police vehicle when he became belligerent and kicked a cop.
Dean was released on bond the next day on the condition that he seek treatment for his drug and alcohol addiction.
His severe bail conditions included a 6 p.m. curfew and drug and alcohol testing at random intervals.
On October 11, about 10.55 p.m., he entered a Surry Hills cigarette shop on Elizabeth St., and his final chance at freedom flew out the window.
The 24-year-old entered the TSG Tobacconist and pretended to be interested in buying a phone before fleeing with the $200 grey iPhone after a store employee handed it to him.
He returned after 10 minutes, armed with a 30cm hammer, and hit a male employee in the face, causing minor head injuries.
He dashed out of the store after dropping the hammer, only to return and demand it be returned to him.
He fled again after another argument, prompting the workers to call the cops, who discovered Dean wandering down nearby Holt St, where he got “aggressive and irate.”
The fact that no one was wounded by the hammer, according to Magistrate Viney, was “more a matter of good luck than excellent strategy.”
Dean has remained in custody and bail refused since October 12.
On Tuesday, he admitted to attacking police, affray, assaulting with a purpose to rob, being armed with the intent to commit an indictable crime, two charges of wilfully destroying property, and theft.
A charge of assault causing actual bodily harm and two counts of ordinary assault were dropped by police.
Final bid for rehab
Rowe battled for Dean’s release from jail and placement in a residential rehabilitation facility, seeking that the punishment be postponed and that he be granted bail instead.
Dean appeared in court through AVL from the John Morony Correctional Centre in Sydney’s northwest, wearing his prison uniform and remaining mute during the hearing.
Dean’s behavior, according to Rowe, was “spontaneous” and stemmed from his “long-standing addiction to drugs,” which he began taking at a young age.
“The impulsivity of his conduct … there was no real planning, he would have had a significantly limited state of mind from his addiction issues,” he told the court.
Dean had PTSD as a result of abuse throughout his schooling, enormous demands from being a child actor, and a “unique experience as a child,” according to the court.
Rowe described his client as having “excellent ability,” which he demonstrated via his commitment to work at such a young age.
“But mental health is such a significant factor and he has limited criminal history,” Rowe said.
“He wasn’t part of a planned or organized criminal gang; it was a result of his drug addiction… but he has to address his mental health and addiction problems.”
Dean had a “severe drug and alcohol problem,” according to Magistrate Alison Viney, which contributed to his violent behavior.
Dean had been offered the opportunity to join rehab centers during previous court hearings, but he had failed to do so.
Dean had “well-documented mental health concerns,” including post-traumatic stress disorder and major depressive disorder, according to the report.
“Where the court has previously granted opportunities, he has not only relapsed but committed even more heinous crimes,” Magistrate Viney added.
Another six months in prison
The request for release to undertake rehabilitation was denied by the magistrate, who stated that the court’s first concern was to safeguard the community.
Dean was regarded by Magistrate Viney as a “bright” young man who may become a contributing member of the community if he sought treatment for his drug addiction.
“But that is in his hands,” she said.
Dean received a total term of 19 months in jail, with an 11-month non-parole period.
Due to time already served, Magistrate Viney backdated the sentence to commence on July 11, 2021.
He will be eligible for release on June 10.
“I sincerely hope once you are released you will maintain your desire to address your long-term drug issues,” she said.
Ms Dean fined Dean $1,000 and placed him on a community correction order, requiring him to be of good behavior for the next 12 months while accepting supervision to help him overcome his addictions.
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