|Portrayed by||Kieron Richardson|
|First appearance||17 February 2006|
|Created by||David Hanson|
|Introduced by||David Hanson (2006)
Bryan Kirkwood (2006)
|Other names||Ste McQueen (married name)
Ste Hay (maiden name)
|Occupation||Chef (2008–10, 2012–)
Deli owner (2012–14)
Restaurant co-owner (2014–)
|Home||2 Oakdale Drive (2013–)|
Steven "Ste" Hay (nee McQueen) is a fictional character from the British Channel 4 soap opera Hollyoaks, played by Kieron Richardson. The character debuted on-screen during the episode airing on 17 February 2006. Ste was created by David Hanson and was originally intended to be a short-term character for seven episodes. The following series producer Bryan Kirkwood decided to bring the character back on a permanent basis.
Ste has been at the centre of several storylines including joyriding, underage sex, drug dealing, domestic abuse, a baby kidnapping plot and a gay relationship. He was initially portrayed as a "bad boy" type character. Although he changed, producer Lucy Allan wanted him to revert. The issue of domestic violence has been portrayed through the character on two occasions: the first was his violence towards girlfriend Amy Barnes, and the second when he suffered abuse from his boyfriend Brendan Brady. Richardson and co-star Slanina-Davies both fronted an anti-domestic abuse campaign called "Expect Respect" for Women's Aid. He has subsequent relationships with Rae Wilson (Alice Barlow), Noah Baxter (Law Thompson), Doug Carter (PJ Brennan), John Paul McQueen (James Sutton), Sinead O'Connor (Stephanie Davis) and Harry Thompson (Parry Glasspool). His relationships with Rae, Noah and Doug have become subject to love "triangle" storylines involving Brendan. Later, a new storyline saw Doug Carter (PJ Brennan) question his sexuality after developing feelings for Ste. They get engaged and are forced to share a wedding with Cindy Cunningham (Stephanie Waring) and Tony Hutchinson (Nick Pickard). The highly publicized "Enjoy the Ride" episodes air and Ste is transferred to a coma after gaining serious injuries, attempting to save his daughter Leah from being hit by the minibus. Storylines since have seen his marriage to John Paul, serious drug abuse, discovering his father and his family, an heterosexual relationship with best friend Sinead following the birth of their daughter, and an affair with Harry.
Ste's gay storyline prompted Richardson to come out as gay. Its aim was to raise awareness of domestic abuse in a homosexual relationship. Whilst Ste and his storylines have received a mixed reaction from critics, Richardson has been nominated for various awards for his portrayal.
Character creation and casting
The character of Ste was originally a background character, who was cast by David Hanson for only seven episodes. Upon completion of his initial short stint, new producer Bryan Kirkwood decided to bring the character back for another handful of episodes in October 2006 in which Ste fled the scene of a car accident involving Amy Barnes (Ashley Slanina-Davies). Following positive viewer feedback after this second stint, Kirkwood asked Richardson to reprise the role on a permanent basis beginning 26 September 2007.
In 2010, speculation arose that Richardson would leave the show, due to his participation in ITV ice skating competition Dancing on Ice. Richardson said "I'm not leaving, I'm staying put". He added his participation in the reality television series was for "fun", and stating: "I still want to stay at Hollyoaks and progress in my career there" because he did not think he was a good enough actor to pursue other projects. However, he later revealed he was not sure executive producer Paul Marquess would renew his contract. In November 2010, Richardson commented on his future with the show, branding it a new era and thankful to be part of it. Richardson stated: "Marquess loved everything I've been doing and wanted to keep me on. I'm hoping to stick with the show no matter what." Ste is best friends with Sinead O'Connor (Hollyoaks).
When Ste was introduced on Hollyoaks, he was introduced as a violent and rebellious teenager who was often in trouble. He bullied several of his peers, including Josh Ashworth (Sonny Flood), Jamie "Fletch" Fletcher (Sam Darbyshire) and Nicole Owen (Ciara Janson). His troublesome personality continued as he became a drug dealer, stole money and began hitting Amy. During 2009, Ste's persona improved when he became a single father to Lucas Hay (Jude) and Amy's daughter to a previous relationship, Leah (Jessica Croft-Lane) after she developed post-natal depression. Ste began working in restaurant Il Gnosh to earn money for his children, showing that the character had matured.
In 2010, Richardson revealed that executive producer Lucy Allan was going to return Ste to his "bad" ways. Richardson said that Ste had portrayed the whole "bad thing" and mellowed. He felt Ste was emulating fellow character Tony Hutchinson (Nick Pickard), because Ste was "running a restaurant, camping it up like him and talking like him". Allan wanted to change that and see him regain some old habits. These changes did not happen because Allan quit her position soon after.
Richardson later told Inside Soap that he hated Ste when he first joined the show, adding: "When he came into the show Ste was a bit of a skater boy, and I hated that." Richardson would recite his lines in "a sinister way and do under-the-eyebrows stuff", which Richardson felt inspired the writers to develop Ste's character more deeply.
Domestic violence and fatherhood
Returning later in 2007, Ste and Amy eventually got back together. The pair moved into their own flat, to the dismay of Amy's father Mike Barnes (Tony Hirst). Despite this, Ste became increasingly violent and started to hit Amy, on one occasion even cutting off her ponytail. Slanina-Davis raised money from hair cut during the scene in aid the cancer charity CLIC Sargent. At this time, Amy became pregnant, but was unsure whether to keep the baby. Speaking about 2008 as a whole for Ste and Amy, producer Bryan Kirkwood said he was proud of the way Richardson had portrayed Ste in a sympathetic manner so viewers could understand - but not condone his behaviour. He thought he and Slanina-Davies delivered brilliant performances portraying the "reality of so many 16-17-year-olds", struggling to make a life for themselves. He felt some of their scenes were "downright shocking". Eventually, Amy decides to accept the help of her friends and family and leaves Ste for abusing her.
Whilst the storyline aired, Richardson and Slanina-Davies fronted a charity campaign called "Expect Respect" in order to combat domestic violence. At the time Richardson released a statement opining domestic violence affects many young people in any form of life. He stated he could imagine "how frightening it would be to have him as a boyfriend" and condemned his "violence and bullying" because it is always unacceptable."
During April 2009, Amy gave birth to Lucas, and subsequently left due to post-natal depression. Ste was left looking after both Lucas, and Amy's daughter Leah. A couple, Abi Raven (Elaine Glover) and Daniel Raven (Chris Hargreaves) befriended Ste and tried to convince him that he was a good father, and that he did not need Amy in their lives. However, Abi and Daniel planned to kidnap Lucas, at first in order to keep him and then later on to give him to another family. Richardson expressed to Digital Spy his pleasure with this storyline, saying, "It's getting quite dark." He was also shocked with its entertaining and unexpected ending." When the storyline came to its climax, Abi and Daniel tried to take Lucas, but they were stopped.
Ste told Amy's father Mike to look after Lucas and Leah in the aftermath of the baby plot because he didn't think he was a good father. Richardson reported that he enjoyed working with Jude and Jessica Croft-Lane, the young actors who played Lucas and Leah. He reported that Jude was camera shy and liked to play with camera equipment during filming and that he told Croft-Lane that his name was actually Ste. Richardson concluded the storyline was different and he felt it gave him a chance to showcase his acting abilities.
Gay domestic violence
During an interview on This Morning, Kieron Richardson revealed he was gay, and that Ste would explore his sexuality and come out as gay after embarking on a dangerous affair with his boss Brendan Brady (Emmett J. Scanlan). Ste saw a nicer side to Brendan and they formed an "unusual friendship," which eventually lead to having a wild lads night out and a drunken kiss. Brendan rejected Ste, giving into passion later, they kiss again. But the storyline took a dark twist when Ste was beaten badly.
During an interview, series producer Paul Marquess, he described it as a long running storyline, adding: "It is dark to begin with, the lessons that Ste learns are ultimately positive and life affirming." He also felt it was about not "being afraid of who you are" and Ste was "refreshingly accepting" of his feelings towards a man. Richardson revealed he was shocked to discover the details of the plot. He felt it was interesting to see how Ste coped with the being the victim of domestic violence.
Ste comes out to ex-girlfriend Amy first. During their conversation Ste reveals Amy was the only girl he really had feelings for, and that his confusion over his sexuality was not the reason for him abusing her during their relationship. Ste is very relieved by Amy's good reaction. Amy is the one who discovers that Brendan is hitting Ste and she tells Ste to break it off, reminding him of how it was when he was hitting her.
Richard admitted his initial fears of the portrayal because he felt it was a taboo subject. He had difficulties portraying it initially, this was because he was not familiar with the subject. "The storyline had not been tackled in British soap opera before and Richardson felt Ste was "making television history". He then explained how the storyline differs from other soap operas because "Ste doesn't question his sexuality and it's not about a struggle — it's about domestic abuse in a gay relationship." Richardson also stated because of the plot's dark nature, he hoped viewers would be "drawn into it". He branded the storyline as unpredictable because viewers never know if Brendan was going kiss or hit Ste.
A spokesperson for Hollyoaks confirmed that Ste didn't realise "how much power and control Brendan was wielding over him". This was because Ste was still coming to terms with his sexuality. Ste felt a connection he never felt before because he hadn't had another male partner. Brendan manipulated Ste into believing he was to blame for Brendan's anger. The representative said this was why he ended up apologising. The storyline also aimed to shock viewers with the "dark depths" Brendan would go to in order to control Ste. Marquess later stated that Brendan's past would be explained and that everyone should remember it was Ste who used to hit Amy first, adding: "So it's a dark and interwoven story made all the more complicated by the introduction of a new love interest for Ste".
In early 2011 Marquess revealed that Ste would have a new boyfriend. This would help create another "classic triangle" storyline. It was then revealed that new gay character Noah Baxter (Law Thompson) would befriend Ste. Noah's friend Cindy Cunningham (Stephanie Waring) decides to help the pair start a relationship. Waring said Cindy does not care about Ste and Noah and she sees them as "the only gays in the village". Waring concluded that she thrives off the attention and gossip their romance generates for her. However Richardson said that despite his new relationship he is still "madly" in love with Brendan. Ultimately he stated "He may care for Noah, but he will always run back to Brendan".
Ste was originally portrayed as being a smart loner who kept to himself, with a cool older brother who taught him how to drive cars. It was later shown that his loneliness was just an act to get girls to sleep with him and that he was not really intelligent. In later episodes, his "brother" was never mentioned, possibly insinuating that Ste had lied about him. Ste was shown to have come from a broken home: raised by his alcoholic mother Pauline Hay (Julie Hogarth) and his abusive stepfather Terry Hay (Conor Ryan), with no contact with his biological father Danny Lomax (Stephen Billington). Ste was regularly beaten by Terry, who was defended by Pauline. This led to Ste's violent nature and resentment of his mother.
Ste first appears as a friend of Wayne Tunnicliffe (Joe Marsden). Ste eventually begins a relationship with Amy and pressures her to have sex with him. Ste begins a feud with Josh and his cousin Fletch after they both defend Amy, who does not want to have sex. Ste and Wayne push Josh and Fletch into rebelling, which they go along with in order to impress them. Amy becomes pregnant by a stranger, but does not tell Ste. Afterward, Ste confides in Amy about the abuse he had to deal with from his stepfather. Ste takes Fletch, Amy, Josh and Michaela McQueen (Hollie-Jay Bowes) joyriding and causes a car accident, after which he flees. Following a confession to the police from Fletch, Ste is sent to a young offender's institute.
Months later, Ste returns and seeks Amy's help. After convincing her he has changed, Amy gives Ste a second chance. Amy's father Mike attacks Ste, but is told by Amy that Ste is her daughter Leah's father. Ste and Amy become a couple again and move into a flat of their own. Mike contacts Ste's stepfather Terry, who arrives and beats up Ste. Amy then throws Mike out. To help with their money worries, Ste steals Warren Fox's (Jamie Lomas) credit card. With this, he buys expensive belongings for the flat. When Warren finds out, he takes the belongings and threatens Ste, who later breaks into Warren's business, Evissa and sets a fire, which almost kills Warren's fiancée Louise Summers (Roxanne McKee). After this, Warren beats up Ste. Ste then turns to dealing drugs for money with his friend Nige Foster (Sam Townend) and influences Fletch to begin smoking marijuana. Amy lets Ste's mother Pauline see Leah, causing an angry Ste to end up hitting Amy. However, they reconcile. After Ste fails to find a job, Ste steals Carmel McQueen's (Gemma Merna) handbag, but is stopped. To defend himself, Ste lies that Leah has been diagnosed with leukaemia. Amy is angry, but also lies after they receive money. Ste and Amy's relationship turns violent, with his lashing out on several occasions. The lie about Leah's health is revealed and Amy has no other option but to stay with Ste. Amy discovers she is pregnant, so Ste agrees that he will change. Despite his promise, Ste steals a karaoke machine, which causes Amy to walk out and tell Mike of her abuse, after which he beats Ste up. A drunken Ste climbs onto scaffolding and threatens to commit suicide. Kieron Hobbs (Jake Hendriks) tries to talk him down as Amy, Sarah Barnes (Loui Batley) and Mike leave, believing Ste is attention-seeking. As they turn away, Ste falls and breaks his leg. After this, Ste and Justin Burton (Chris Fountain) become friends and move in together. For the sake of his unborn child, Ste gets a job in Il Gnosh restaurant and begins taking anger management classes.
Ste becomes friends with Natty, Daniel and Abi and begins a short-lived relationship with Theresa McQueen (Jorgie Porter), which he ends to focus on getting Amy back. Amy gives birth to her and Ste's son Lucas Hay, helped by Ste, Daniel and Abi. Amy, however, suffers from post-natal depression, and leaves to live with her grandmother, leaving Lucas and Leah with Mike, who later leaves them in Ste's care. Abi and Daniel begin to help Ste with looking after Lucas, with plans of taking Lucas to replace their own son who died. Abi starts drugging Ste as Daniel turns him against Natty, who grows suspicious of Daniel and Abi's interests. Mike finds Ste asleep whilst looking after Lucas, so takes him. However, Ste takes Lucas back and stops Mike from seeing him. Ste almost shakes Lucas, so Daniel convinces him to give his son up. The truth is revealed, Daniel is arrested and later released, he and Abi leave the village. Amy returns and slowly begins to bond with her children again. They move into their old flat together.
When Tony fires him, Ste starts working at Chez Chez nightclub as a barman. Ste grows suspicious of Brendan Brady after he uses Carmel to smuggle drugs. Ste's former co-worker and love interest Rae Wilson (Alice Barlow) returns following a stay with her ill grandmother. Brendan is jealous of their relationship, so gets Veronica (Lynsey McLaren) to kiss Ste, which Rae witnesses. They later make up after Ste convinces Rae that the kiss meant nothing. Following a drunken night, Ste kisses Brendan, who then throws him out. The next day, Brendan corners Ste and kisses him again. In the club a further day later, Ste follows Brendan to a cellar and moves to kiss him. However, Brendan punches Ste, who falls to the ground. Brendan then makes Ste tell Cheryl Brady (Bronagh Waugh) he was mugged. Ste avoids Brendan, still shaken by his actions. They resume their relationship and Ste tells Amy of his relationship. This prompts Brendan to attack Ste again. Amy realises that Ste is being abused. To hide their relationship, Brendan tells Ste to go out on a date with Rae. When Rae and Ste finally sleep together, Amy is hospitalised after being involved in a fire. Ste suspects Brendan started the fire. However, he denies it. Ste discovers Brendan's former lover Macca (Drew Dillon) is in hospital after being beaten up by Brendan. Macca and Ste end up kissing. Ste later confides in Dominic Reilly (John Pickard) about Brendan and the fire, however Dom is later charged.
Ste starts a relationship with Rae. Ste is angered when he sees Brendan has assaulted Trev Costello (Scott Neal), who he thinks is gay, leading him to believe that Brendan's denial of his sexuality is leading him to gay-bash, ending their relationship. Ste later decides to give Brendan a second chance. Brendan reluctantly agrees to a date with Ste and the pair go to a gay bar, but Brendan bails. Rae reveals to Ste that she is pregnant. Amy convinces Brendan to end his affair with Ste. Whilst sharing a goodbye kiss, Brendan and Ste are caught by Mitzeee Minniver (Rachel Shenton). Ste becomes jealous when Brendan and Mitzeee agree to pretend to be a couple. Rae catches them kissing, she suffers a miscarriage. Ste ends his affair with Brendan when he attacks him again. Ste gets revenge on Brendan by hitting him with a cricket bat. Brendan says they are even, he reveals the truth to Cheryl. Cindy helps Ste and Noah start a relationship and Noah convinces him to come out everyone. When Brendan comes back he kisses Ste and Noah sees. They fight and Ste sleeps with Brendan but leaves beaten up. Ste and Noah reconcile. Brendan later seduces Noah in an attempt to split the pair up. Ste forgives Noah realising Brendan's intentions. Noah secures a job in Newcastle upon Tyne and Ste agrees to move away with him. Brendan is angered by this and sets Noah up once again. Ste catches Noah sharing a kiss with Sean (Matt Kennedy), Ste ends their relationship which forces Noah to leave alone. Brendan confesses love for Ste and they sleep together and Brendan's wife Eileen Brady (Rachel Doherty) walks in on them. Eileen tells Brendan he cannot see his son Declan Brady (Jay Duffy) unless he does not see Ste. Brendan tells Ste they have to pretend until Declan returns to Ireland.Ste and Brendan break it off because of this, Ste leaving to go on vacation with his kids. When he returns he sees Declan and happens to mention his sexuality. This causes Brendan to panic and give Ste a black eye. Ste goes to the police but Brendan convinces him to not tell for the sake of Declan.
Brendan fires Ste to get him out of his life, and Ste starts a business with Doug. Ste meets Adam on online dating. Ste has dates with Adam which Doug, who has feelings for Ste, is jealous about. When Ste went on his first date with Adam, Doug's feelings were worked out by Adam. On one date, in the SU Bar, when Ste and Adam are about to kiss Doug makes a pass at Texas, which makes a scene and interrupts Ste and Adam. When Ste and Adam kiss at the end of the date Doug expresses jealousy, which Ste mistakenly believes is due to Ste being taken away from Doug as a mate by Adam. During an argument Ste finds out that Doug may be in love with him. After trying to forget about the incident, things get more awkward between the two. Adam dumps Ste, claiming that Ste has feelings for someone else. After Doug finds out, they have yet another argument which results in them kissing. Ste insists Doug must figure out who he is and come out before they can have a relationship. Doug then leaves Ste at his own at the Deli while Doug tries to "figure out who he is." During this time, Ste is approached many times by ex - boyfriend Brendan. After a few weeks, Doug comes out to his friends and then rushes to the Del. He tells Ste exactly how he feels and kisses Ste. He then kisses Ste again, and he kisses back - not knowing Brendan has seen the entire exchange.
After being pressured, Doug tells Ste that the loan he got to buy the deli was actually from Brendan. Ste does not take the news well and tells him it's over. Brendan proposes to be a silent partner of the Deli. Ste signs a contract in agreement, but is still not satisfied as Brendan is still a part of it. Ste comes up with a plan. Ste kisses Brendan and asks for an equal relationship, and gets the Deli totally signed over to him. After, Ste leaves a note for Brendan telling him he has been fooled, and he wants Doug and the Deli, not him. Ste finds Doug and kisses him.
Since he conned Brendan into signing the Deli over to him, he has experienced many ups and downs in his relationship with Doug. Doug's insecurities over Brendan and Ste growing closer caused Doug to propose to Ste. Ste accepted, and later went to the hospital after the explosion at the Brady's holiday home, to break the news to Brendan. When he gets out of the hospital Ste helps him out which upsets Doug. But the engaged couple book a place for their wedding. Ste is unsure if his kids will understand that he is marrying a man but they are excited as well. Ste agrees to take the kids for 6 months and they will get to be at the oncoming wedding. Ste discovers Doug has been trying to find evidence on Brendan's past crimes so he will be imprisoned and will leave Ste alone. Ste decides not to marry Doug but later changes his mind and goes through with the wedding. Ste discovers a recording of Brendan admitting to the murder of Danny Houston (Darren Day) to protect Ste. Ste declares the wedding is over. Ste goes outside to find Leah in the road. Maddie Morrison (Scarlett Bowman) swerves to avoid Leah but hits Ste. She then crashes into the wedding venue. Ste is left in a coma and when he wakes he can not remember everything that happened prior to the crash. He is released from hospital and Doug reminds him of his attempts to set Brendan up.
Ste and Doug have short-lived marriage problems which they resolve. Doug's parents come to the village as Doug's dad has Parkinson's disease. After much persuasion, Ste agrees to move to America with Doug and his children. Before he is due to leave, Ste visits Brendan and confesses he still cares for him. They kiss and then Brendan punches him, leading Ste to decide to leave Brendan for good. Cheryl, believing she is speaking to Ste, tells Doug that she knows Ste still loves Brendan. Doug tells Ste that he knows he still loves Brendan and gives him a ticket to Dublin to see Brendan. Ste goes to find Brendan, only to find him in bed with John Paul. Angered, Ste leaves. Brendan finds him and admits his love for him, leading to their reunion. Brendan tells Ste that when he was younger his dad physically abused him.
When they return to the village, they discover Brendan's dad, Seamus, has moved to the village. Kevin Foster (Elliot Balchin) accuses Brendan of sexual and physical assault. When Ste doubts Brendan, he hits him. It is revealed that Walker had told Kevin to accuse Brendan and that Walker plans to hurt Ste and Cheryl. Brendan gets Ste and Cheryl to safety and kills Walker. Brendan tells Ste that Seamus sexually abused him as a child and the pair reunite. Cheryl learns of Seamus' abuse of Brendan and finds Seamus about to attack Brendan so she shoots him dead. Brendan takes the blame for Seamus' murder and admits to his previous crimes before brandishing an unloaded gun at armed police so they shoot him. Brendan survives his shooting and is imprisoned. Upset, Ste begins drinking and is kicked out of the Dog for unruly behaviour. George Smith (Steven Roberts) comforts him and they have a one-night stand. When George tells him that their one-night stand was his first time Ste gets angry. He storms out of the deli and goes to visit Cheryl.
After visiting Cheryl, Ste returns to the village a changed man. Unknown to him Kevin has also returned to the village. He finds a homeless Kevin squatting in Chez Chez. He shouts at Kevin for everything he did to Brendan and then beats him up. Ste returns to work at the deli but he tells Doug that he wants to sell his half of the deli so he can buy Chez Chez. Doug tells him that a newspaper reporter is coming to write about the deli, but Ste needs to be there. Ste agrees to show up, but ruins the deli's chance of winning an award for the best family run business. He hears that Robbie Roscoe (Charlie Wernham) is throwing an illegal rave at Chez Chez. Ste decides he wants in and helps Robbie by supplying alcohol. He finds Robbie with two bags filled with Ectasy and at first is angry but then decides that it's a good way to get more money. The police are called after Maxine Minniver (Nikki Sanderson) falls unconscious because Robbie spiked her drink which was mean to be drank by Callum Kane (Laurie Duncan). Ste steals Robbie's drugs and sells them for his own profit. When Robbie finds out he attacks Ste by throwing him against a wall and demands the money. Robbie's brother Freddie (Charlie Clapham) shows up and pulls Robbie away. Ste finds out the drugs were actually Freddie's and that Robbie and taken them from him. Freddie then makes a deal for Ste to deal drugs for him. Sinead O'Connor (Stephanie Davis) moves into Ste's flat after she moves out of home. Ste begins to use the deli as a way to sell drugs, by making Robbie a pizza delivery man. When Robbie moves to his aunties, Jason steps in to do the pizza delivery job unaware of the drugs. Jason accidentally takes the pizza with the drugs into the police station and Ste rushes to receive the pizza box. After an argument with Doug, Ste quits the deli. Sandy Roscoe goes round to Ste's flat where Ste admits that he's doing it for his kids and Sandy forgives him but he is not to use her sons again. In desperate need for money, Ste meets up to the main supplier, Trevor and gets more drugs after Freddie refuses to get him more. Ste manages to convince Sinead to help him sell the drugs at the club which results in Sinead getting arrested.
Ste has a rocky reconciliation with his mother, Pauline, following her diagnosis with cancer. He finds 23 years worth of greetings cards from his biological father that Pauline had kept hidden from him throughout his life: this leads to a confrontation with Pauline, who admits she was scared that Ste would leave her, and she finally tells him that she loves him. Pauline begs him to kill her, to put her out of the misery and the pain she is suffering. After much deliberation and discussing the matter with Doug, Ste plans to go ahead with the deed. He is about to give Pauline an overdose when Tony suddenly realises what Ste is planning; Tony enters the house and stops him. Later, when Ste leaves, Pauline has a fall trying to get the pill to administer it to herself. She dies shortly afterwards with Ste by her side. Viewers never see what happened, and are left doubting whether Ste administered the pill or if Pauline took it herself, however Ste confesses to Doug that he did give Pauline the pill. Sandy Roscoe reports her suspicions to the police, and Ste is arrested on suspicion of murder. Sandy later feels sorry for Ste and backtracks on her statement, leading to the case against Ste being dropped, but overcome with guilt on the day of Pauline's funeral, he hands himself over to the police. He's charged with assisted suicide, and released on bail.
Ste gets drunk the day before his trial, miserable and having lost nearly all hope of getting off. When he meets Doug, he tells him he has sacked his lawyer. Doug is dismayed, and asks for Jim McGinn's advice. Doug wants to use some money from the deli to pay Jim's fee, but Ste is completely against the idea, convinced that it would be better to let him fight his own battles. Ste finds an envelope full of money on his doorstep from his father. Ste is angry, but Doug assures him his father obviously cares about him.
Ste initially wants to be punished for killing his mother, and admits to everything at the trial without remorse. Seeing a crestfallen Doug outside the court room, Sandy Roscoe encourages Doug to tell Ste that he still loves him. Doug talks to Ste and reminds him that he has his children to look out for and a lot of people who care for him, but he cannot bring himself to say that he loves Ste. Ste seems to be angered by Doug's advice, but later gives a moving speech about being a father, and the judge passes down a suspended sentence.
After the trial Ste, craving stability and familiarity, asks Doug if they can make a go of it. Doug is overjoyed to learn Ste feels the same way, but needs to know that Ste is true to his word about leading a crime free life. Ste had previously told Trevor that he would not become a dealer again, but he still has drugs which Trevor had given him hidden. Doug is heartbroken when he finds the drugs. Later, Doug walks into the club and finds Ste confronting Trevor, and realises Ste was true to his word. Ste scatters the drugs over the balcony of the club onto the street below telling Trevor he will never work for him again. In revenge, Trevor decides to frame Ste for the murder of D.S. Trent. Trevor hides the gun in Leah's rucksack, and the police raid Ste's house and arrest him. Following questioning at the police station by Sam Lomax, Ste is released.
In an attempt to put all the drama behind them, Doug and Ste realise they need to get away for a while, and plan a spontaneous around the world trip. At their leaving party, Sinead brings Ste a bag she stole from Trevor as a leaving present, believing that it is full of cash. In fact, there is a bomb inside. Clare Devine detonates the bomb, leaving everyone unconscious. Gaining consciousness Doug gets Sinead out then goes back in for Ste but Sinead tells Doug he is bleeding but he goes back in anyway. As he helps Ste a large bit of wall falls between them. Sharing some home truths Ste tells Doug that he would always choose him and that he never use to like his accent, Doug then tells Ste that he doesn't really like the way he makes coffee. Ste tells Doug that hes always wanted to go to Rome and asks Doug can they go there first and Doug agrees. After the paramedics find them, Ste tells Doug that hes ok and they can go away together now but not hearing anything back from Doug, Ste then realises that he is dead and holds him in his arms. Shortly after Ste drinks a bottle of Vodka with pills but is stopped when Danny comes to find him. Ste breaks down and tells Danny he knows nothing about him and Danny tells him that he means the world to him because he is his son.
In order to keep Trevor away from The Hutch, Ste agrees to work for him again by selling drugs in the restaurant. Ste is shocked to learn that Fraser Black (Jesse Birdsall) is Trevors boss and when Trevor quits from the business, Fraser starts threatening Ste and his kids. Ste is arrested for murdering DS-Sykes and burning out a car he was in after Frasers copper friend forces him to confess to doing it in order to protect Fraser. When the police discover Ste wasn't responsible they send a search out for Fraser. After Fraser is found dead in his car, Ste reveals to Tegan Lomax that he doesn't know if he killed Fraser that night because he doesn't remember anything, but Tegan reassures Ste that it wasn't him and not to think it was.
Early in 2014, Ste started to grow close to John Paul McQueen, despite his previous relationship with his father, however after John Paul was attacked by Finn O'Connor he pushed Ste away. Ste's drug problem continued to worsen, leading him to be forced to tearfully send Leah and Lucas back to Amy. After John Paul was released from prison he confessed to him that he believed he killed Fraser. After watching CCTV footage of the Folly set up by the High School, where he witnessed Ste discard a gun, John Paul retrieved it and buried it. Their relationship continued to develop but Ste's continued drug use caused a rift. After John Paul discovered drugs in Ste's bedroom where he'd been looking after Matthew, he enlisted Danny's help to sober him up. After Ste escaped and attempted to buy drugs, John Paul confessed he had found the gun. While trying to retrieve it they were discovered by Sonny Valentine. Ste confessed that he killed Fraser, however it was later revealed that Freddie Roscoe had given Ste the gun after he'd killed Fraser.
Free of guilt and pushed to clean up his act, Ste and John Paul became a couple, but John Paul, still traumatized over his rape, backed away when Ste tried to kiss him. After begging him to tell him what was wrong, John Paul finally confessed to Ste what happened. Shocked, Ste tried to report it to the police but was talked out of it by Sam Lomax, the only other person to know about the rape. Family troubles came to a head in August when Leela's ex Cameron returned, leading to Sam and Danny deciding to escape to New Zealand. When Ste told Cameron, not knowing they had tried to leave without him knowing, Danny called him a "vindictive, spiteful little boy", to which Ste claimed he had put John Paul ahead of his family, leading to Danny telling him he wasn't part of his family. When Danny and Sam were later killed in a hit and run car accident, and Leela also blaming him for her parents death, Ste sank into a deep depression and returned to alcohol and drugs and accidentally overdosed. He was saved when John Paul and Leela went to the flat to find him unconscious in the bath tub. He survived but decided it was unfair to make John Paul put up with him and called off their relationship. However John Paul told Ste he loved him and wouldn't give up on the two of them, buying Ste two Troll Dolls, which he collected as child.
After John Paul discovered Ste discussing their relationship with Finn, he grew in despair. After Ste witnessed John Paul and Finn talking in the alleyway, which left John Paul visibly shaken, Ste finally realized Finn was John Paul's attacker. He kidnapped Finn and brought him to the disused petrol station and tried to get him to confess. John Paul stopped him, claiming Finn wasn't his attacker and that he wasn't raped by Finn. Ste claims that the two are boyfriends yet he can't confide in him or sleep with him, causing John Paul to walk off. Ste later gets drunk at a 1970s LGBT disco and kisses George Smith. He is later seen going to bed with someone though it is not revealed whether or not it was George. Ste however still can not remember what actually did happen that night and George insists to Ste at the Hutch that they didn't sleep together. Sinead however comes forward noting Ste, to his horror, that it was her who he was with and this episode shows a flashback to prove that Ste and Sinead actually did sleep together. Sinead then realises that Ste didn't remember any of this and she walks off, while Ste stands there in confusion.
Meanwhile, Ste's drug problem continues to worsen. After it is revealed that Finn was John Paul's attacker, Ste is called as a witness at the trial. Unable to cope, he gets high before taking the stand. Myra discovers this and orders Ste to stay away rom her son. Finn is found guilty and Ste and John Paul try to get their relationship back on track. To that end John Paul tries to convince Amy to let Ste see his kids. Unfortunately, although Amy reluctantly agrees, Ste returns home stoned causing Amy to leave in disgust. Thinks continue to get worse when Ste buys drugs from Lockie Campbell. Ste attempts to return it but since he had used some of it, he tries to make up the rest by mixing it with washing powder. When Lockie convinces John Paul to take the drug, resulting in him being hospitalized, Ste goes off the deep end and tries to harm himself again. Leela, Tegan and Lockie convince him to enter rehab, using the life assurance from the death of their parents. In his first week, Ste informs on his room mate who is selling drugs and seems to be doing well.
After completing his month in rehab Ste is eager to be reunited with John Paul. Unfortunately, hoping not to endanger his progress, John Paul had not told Ste about the train crash that result in the death of his sister Carmel, or of the disappearance of Mercedes. Arriving at Mercedes memorial service, Ste witnesses Lockie comforting John Paul, cause a jealous Ste to punch Lockie. Desperate to show Amy he has changed, Ste arranges to meet with the kids. Her he learns that Amy has become close to his stepfather, Terry. With the help of John Paul, Ste is finally able to confront Terry over the way he was treated, as Terry forgives Ste for abuse him, but, was devastated when his ex-wife died last year, and thenmove on. Later, with the help of Leah and Lucas, Ste proposes to John Paul, which he accepts. Myra is not happy with the engagement but after seeing Ste and John Paul interact with the kids over lunch she reluctantly agrees to give her support. The pair decide to marry on Christmas Day.
After an eventful stag party, where Ste has a minor relapse, Ste believes John Paul has called off the wedding and decides to take the kids on holiday. However, after learning that John Paul is merely stranded in Scotland after being locked in a lorry with Lockie, the wedding is back on. Minutes before the ceremony, Sinead reveals to Ste that he is the father of her unborn child. A shaken Ste locks Sinead in a closet and despite some hesitation goes ahead with the wedding. However, later at the wedding reception, Sinead shows up and reveals to everyone present that Ste will be a father again. After Sinead is struck by a car driven by Sienna Blake, Ste is present at her hospital bed. When John Paul comes to the hospital, Ste believes he is there to end the marriage. To his surprise the two agree to remain together.
The honeymoon doesn't last long for the newly married couple. In January Ste starts getting calls from Connor, a student he had had a one-night stand with while on drugs. Ignoring the calls at first, Ste agrees to meet Connor where he receives the life shattering news that Connor has tested HIV positive. A shocked Ste tells John Paul who is equally shocked but arranges for the two to get tested. Ste, in deep denial, initially blows it off and goes to Peri's piano recital, however has a chance of heart and goes with John Paul. The test results that while John Paul is negative, Ste has tested positive. Deeply troubled, Ste finds it difficult to accept it. John Paul tries to comfort Ste, but backs away when Ste tries to kiss him. Looking for revenge, Ste tracks down Connor and attacks him. A concerned John Paul, along with Leela and Tegan, follow Ste and discover him about to push Connor over the banisters. John Paul manages to talk him down and Ste reveals the truth to his sisters. While Tegan is supportive, Leela reacts badly, believing Ste brought it on himself.
Later on, Ste struggled with his sickness, and was forced to choose between Sinead or John Paul. Ste decided to be with Sinead, since she was pregnant with his child, causing John Paul argue with him but they work it out. Later Aidan and Kyle Bigsby attack Ste and leave him unconscious due to him being gay. Ste makes a full recovery but can't remember who attacked him and is shocked when Harry Thompson admits to the crime and that Harry shared a kiss with John-Paul. Ste then reports Aidan and Kyle after recovering his memory. He forgives John-Paul for the kiss and promises to support Harry until he comes out as gay. Later Harry and Ste share an unexpected moment at Diane's flat. Ste struggles to be intimate with John-Paul as he's worried about giving him HIV John-Paul wants to go on anti-virals but Ste says no. They later make up but Ste gets angry when he finds out John-Paul put his phone on silent almost causing him to miss the birth of his daughter. Eventually they call quits on their marriage and Ste makes it to the Hutch in time to be there for the birth of his daughter Hannah.
Ste is shocked when Sinead reveals that she's in love with him and rejects her, saying that he is gay. Hurt, Sinead then makes offensive comments about Ste's HIV causing him to suffer a relapse. Feeling guilty, Sinead takes Hannah off to be registered without Ste thinking it's not fair on him, but Ste stops her, saying he's willing to make a go of things much to her delight and their loved ones shock. When Sinead's cousin Scott Drinkwell lied about having HIV, Ste let him stay in the flat. When him and Harry are trapped in the loos after Sinead mistakes him for Scott, Harry asks Ste some questions about his relationship and tries to kiss him, but Ste rejects him out of loyalty to Sinead.
Ste is furious to learn that Scott lied about having HIV and that he cost him that church for Hannah's christening, Scott makes it up to him and Sinead by convincing the vicar to do the ceremony. Later Ste falls out with Tony after he made insensitive comments about his HIV and relationship with Sinead. Harry later finds him at the Folly and comforts him, again trying to kiss him, but Ste rejects him. Ste then proposes to Sinead, who accepts and while helping out at a catering event at the school is confronted by Harry. Their anger later leads to passion and they are almost caught by Sinead. Ste then learns that Cameron Campbell killed Sam and Danny and punches him. Harry tries to comfort Ste but he goes off on his own to lay flowers on their graves.
Harry then sends Ste a text about their relationship which Sinead reads. She then tells him he can sleep with other men on the side. He then goes for a drink with Harry but after discovering why Sinead was acting like she was, went off and told her it was her he wanted to be with, upsetting Harry. While Sinead is out of town Harry wrote an email to Ste telling him how he feels about him, but Tony and Diane see it first and show Ste thinking the person Harry meant in the email was Sinead. Later while their alone at the boarding house Ste tries to convince Harry to forget about him but Harry tells Ste that while he doesn't want people to know about him being gay he's ready to be with him, which leads to them having sex. Sinead eventually uncovers the affair when she reads a text that Harry sent Ste and leaves the village with Hannah. Ste is racked with guilt and ends things with Harry.
Weeks later Harry is still texting Ste and later turns up at the flat when he knows that Ste is alone to try and convince him to give them another go. Ste gives into temptation but they are nearly caught by Diane. They continue their affair in secret bled on the opening day of Hollyoaks Pride by a jealous John Paul who still has feelings for Ste. Tony and Ste then clash. Ste later finds out that he needs to go on medication for his HIV. He tells Harry this, but Harry makes it clear he still wants Ste. Ste however is manipulated by Tony into ending things with Harry.
Richardson has been nominated for several awards for his portrayal of Ste. During the 2009 British Soap Awards, he was nominated for "Villain of the Year". He was nominated for the same award in 2008 and at the 2011 awards he was nominated for "Best Actor". Richardson was a nominee for the "Best Actor" award at the Inside Soap Awards during 2010, and was nominated for 'Best Serial Drama Performance' in the 2011 National Television Awards. At the 2011 All About Soap Bubble Awards Ste, Brendan and Rae won the award for "Best Love Triangle". At the 2011 Inside Soap Awards he was nominated for "Best Actor" and "Best Dramatic Performance". He was again nominated in the category of "Serial Drama Performance" at the 2012 National Television Awards. At the 2012 Inside Soap Awards Richardson was nominated for "Best Actor".
Holy Soap opined Ste's most memorable moment stating: "Sadly, it's beating up girlfriend Amy." The fatherhood and baby snatch storyline received mixed reviews from viewers. Digital Spy posted a poll asking readers whether they thought the plot was anti-climactic. 76.6% of voters thought it was truly anti-climactic, whilst the rest thought otherwise.
After Richardson came out on This Morning, Dennis Ayers, writing for gay men's news website AfterElton.com, criticised the revelation, believing it to be for promotional purposes only. Whilst acknowledging Ste as being a "violent bully, a domestic abuser, and a single father", Ayers could see nothing in Ste's "dark past hinted that he might be gay." In spite of his criticism, he praised Richardson for coming out as gay. Anthony D. Langford, also writing for AfterElton, who avidly followed the plot, felt shocked when he witnessed Brendan attacking Ste. He moped there was worse to come and found it compelling viewing. He also did not perceive it as a romantic story stating: "Ste and Brendan's scenes do have an element of sexual allure since the actors have chemistry, but there's too much darkness and manipulation on the edges of every scene to make real romance even possible". He also gave credit to the show for its slow build up over a few months. After Rae became pregnant All About Soap said: "Crikey, at this rate Mr Hay will soon be giving Walford's Jack Branning a run for his money for the Most fertile Man in Soapland award!"
When Theresa "had her eye on Ste" for a potential boyfriend, Jaci Stephen writing for the Daily Mail quipped "Given his history of violence towards women, that might be realised more literally than she would like." When he kissed Brendan, Stephen said Ste had joined the ranks of "very confused young men" that have featured in Hollyoaks. She added he had "banged about wanting to be a good boyfriend and dad for aeons" and being the victim of domestic violence was ironic for him. She later said the serial was brave for tackling gay domestic violence. She opined that Richardson gave an "incredible performance" and felt she was not alone in perceiving the storyline to be "deeply disturbing" and "deeply moving". She later expressed her view that "Ste hasn’t experienced much normality in his young life". She concluded that Ste never seemed to have a trouble free day. The Liverpool Daily Post said "You know you're not flavour of the month when even Ste Hay looks down his nose at you."
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