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Stephen "Ste" Hay is a fictional character from the long-running Channel 4 soap opera Hollyoaks, played by Kieron Richardson. First appearing in 2006, Ste has been at the centre of several storylines including joyriding, domestic violence and a kidnapping plot.

Character creation


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 the brother. Ste was shown to have come from a broken home — no father, an alcoholic mother and an abusive stepfather. His beatings by his stepfather were the cause of Ste's violent nature.


Ste was originally a background character who was only supposed to appear in 19 episodes. However, actor Kieron Richardson was asked to return by producers after popular feedback from the fans.


Personality and identity

Ste was originally a violent youth, often bullying his peers in school. During 2009, Ste's persona changed for the better when he was forced to be a single father to Lucas and Leah after Amy suffered post-natal depression. Ste began working in Il Gnosh to earn money for his children. It was at this time that Abi and Daniel Raven tried to take Lucas away from Ste.

Living with Amy

Returning later in 2007, Ste and Amy Barnes eventually got back together. The pair moved into their own flat, to the dismay of Amy's father Mike. Despite this, Ste became increasingly violent and started to hit Amy, on one occasion even cutting off her ponytail. At this time, Amy fell pregnant, but was unsure whether to keep the baby. Speaking about 2008 as a whole for Ste and Amy, producer Bryan Kirkwood stated: "I'm really proud of the way Kieron Richardson has portrayed Ste, dare I say sympathetically, so we can understand but not condone his behaviour. He and Ashley [Slanina Davies] are delivering brilliant performances as two young kids portray the reality of so many 16-17-year-olds as they struggle to make a life for themselves and repeat the mistakes of their parents. It's a very real situation and some of their scenes still to come are downright shocking. It's set to become a very big story as the year progresses."

During April 2009, Amy gave birth to Lucas Hay, and subsequently left due to post-natal depression. Ste was left looking after both Lucas, and Amy's daughter to a previous relationship, Leah. A couple, Abi and Daniel Raven had befriended Ste and tried to convince him that he was a good father, and that he did not need Amy in their lives. Unbeknown to Ste, Abi and Daniel planned to kidnap Lucas and keep him for themselves. This later changed, with Daniel wanting to give Lucas to another family. As the story progressed, it became increasingly sinister, with Abi and Daniel both drugging Ste to make him exhausted. Kieron Richardson, who plays Ste, stated in an interview with Digital Spy: "It's getting quite dark. It's really interesting and exciting. I'm not going to give too much away because we're trying to entertain people and if we give it away, it's not entertaining! It's not the ending people think it is - and I was quite shocked with the ending. But it's good, really good." When the storyline came to its climax, Abi and Daniel tried to take Lucas. However, did not manage to. After this, Ste told Mike to look after Lucas and Leah, not believing he is a good father.



Ste first appears as a friend of Wayne Tunnicliffe. Wayne introduces Ste to his girlfriend Michaela McQueen and her friend Amy Barnes. Amy fancies Ste but does not know how to ask him out. The two eventually start dating, and Ste pressures her into sleeping with him. After Amy refuses several times, he dumps her. Amy's friend Jamie Fletcher sees how upset she is and tries to cheer her up by insulting Ste. Ste then attacks Fletch, who is saved by his cousin Josh Ashworth. Ste and Wayne then make friends with Josh and Fletch, in order to get closer to Josh's sister Hannah. They meet with them in a park and encourage them to join them in smashing cars and causing a nuisance.

Ste and Wayne then begin to bully Nicole Owen, because of her brother Sam being a rapist and burning down The Dog in the Pond. They terrorise her and even put a dead rat in her locker at school. The bullying stops when Nicole and her family leave Hollyoaks. During the time when he and Amy are apart, Amy sleeps with a stranger and falls pregnant. Ste makes up with Amy, not knowing of her pregnancy. Ste takes Amy joyriding with Michaela. Amy then begins to develop deep feelings for Ste, who reveals his stepfather is abusing him. Josh decides to act cool, copying pornography for Ste and also getting involved in joyriding. Ste, Josh, Fletch and Amy go joyriding in Neville Ashworth's car. The following day, Ste pulls up in a stolen BMW in front of Josh, Fletch, Michaela and Amy when they are walking home from school. Ste tells them all to get in the car, which they do, and they drive it across town. The police begin chasing them. However, Ste loses them and tells the others to get out of the car whilst he ditches it. Amy wants to stay with Ste but the others manage to persuade her to leave.

Amy and Michaela both try and fight for Ste's affections, with Amy suggesting one day that they play truant from school and go joyriding. Josh and Fletch overhear her suggestion, and, after being offered to come with them, they refuse. Ste, Amy and Michaela steal a car and drive around for a bit before going back to school, where they see Josh and Fletch walking home. Ste threatens them if they do not do as he tells them. The five teenagers set off through the countryside in the car. Ste, trying to frighten Josh and Fletch, begins driving dangerously by swerving across the road, which leads to him crashing the car. Everyone survives without any major injuries, except pregnant Amy, who did not have her seatbelt on. Whilst Amy is unconscious in hospital, Ste threatens Fletch, Josh and Michaela about telling the police. Ignoring Ste's threat, Fletch gives Ste's name to the police. Josh and Fletch are then arrested and spend the night in police custody. Amy survives her injuries and is released from hospital. However, Amy, Michaela, Josh and Fletch, are charged with joyriding and sentenced to community service, as the police search for Ste. Josh and Fletch see Ste hiding out in the village. Fletch is extremely angry at Ste for leaving Amy so he starts attacking him. After the fight is broken up by John Paul McQueen, Josh gets local policeman Calvin Valentine, who arrests Ste. The following day, Ste goes back to school after being released on police bail. Amy approaches him and apologises for encouraging him to go faster, which led to him crashing the car, but Ste tells her to stay away from him. Ste is not seen again and is sent to a detention centre for his crimes.

Ste returns to the village.

After some time in the detention centre, Ste returns to the village for help from Amy. Ste tries to apologise to Amy, who refuses to believe he has changed. During an out of control party at Amy's house, Ste's former best friend Wayne tries to grab Amy's daughter Leah. However, Ste manages to get her out of harm and throws Wayne out. Amy the decides Ste deserves a second chance. When Amy's father Mike finds out Ste is back, he attacks him for almost killing his daughter. To stop him, Ste tells him that he is Leah's father, despite not being. Amy tells Mike he is telling the truth. Reluctantly, he allows Ste to stay in their home. Ste and Amy get back together and move into a small flat of their own. Mike contacts Ste's stepfather Terry, who implies that Ste is a danger to Amy and Leah. When Ste finds him in his home, Terry begins brutally beating him, with a horrified Amy and her sister Sarah watching. Mike pulls Terry off Ste and throws him out. Realising they called Terry to interfere, Amy throws Sarah and Mike out. Ste tells Amy it is his fault Terry beat him up. Amy then tells him she will stop seeing her father and sister.

Ste is desperate for money, so steals Warren Fox's credit card. With this, he buys expensive belongings for the flat. When Warren finds out, he hires a debt collector to take the belongings Ste had bought with his money. For revenge, Ste breaks into Warren’s beauticians, Evissa. He steals money before setting fire to it. Unknown to Ste, Warren's fiancée Louise Summers is in the back office. She sees Ste lighting the fire and attacks him. Ste pushes her off and she hits her head on the reception desk. Ste then leaves her lying unconscious as the fire starts to spread. After Louise is saved, Warren finds out it was Ste who set the fire and beats him up. Ste starts dealing drugs in order to get money for his family. He loses his job at The Dog in the Pond for trying to steal alcohol. Ste and Fletch then start taking drugs whilst Amy is at school. Ste's friend and drug-dealer Nige Foster starts staying at Ste and Amy's flat during Christmas. Amy is angry and tells him to leave, which he does.

A woman appears at the door to Amy claiming to be Ste's mother. Amy lets her in. When Ste returns, he is furious and orders her to leave. Ste and Amy then introduce Leah to Pauline, who is shocked to learn she is a grandmother. After Ste refuses to let her hold the baby, Pauline leaves. Ste argues with Amy about letting Pauline in the house. Eventually, Ste pushes Amy against the wall, before banging her head off of it. A scared Amy then leaves to stay with Mike, Kathy and Sarah. Amy turns up at the flat for her and Leah's belongings. As she does this, Terry turns up and threatens Ste and Amy. After Terry leaves, Amy forgives Ste and moves back in. Ste finds Sasha Valentine and Fletch taking heroin in the flat and throws them out, knowing the risk of Leah being there. Ste catches Mike kissing Zoë Carpenter and records it on his mobile phone. He then sends it to everyone at a birthday party. Amy is angry with her father for having an affair with Zoë, who is young enough to be his daughter. Amy and Ste's financial troubles grow worse, but Ste is too proud to ask for help. After failing to find a job, Ste tries to steal Carmel McQueen's handbag. However, Kris Fisher and Carmel's brother John Paul catch him and stop him. He then shouts out that Leah has leukaemia, before leaving. Kris tells Frankie Osborne about Leah's cancer, knowing her own grandchild Charlie Dean also has it. Kris, who is a disc jockey for the local college radio, makes an announcement about Leah, which is broadcast. Frankie tells Nancy Hayton, who tells Amy's sister Sarah about the condition. Sarah comes to see Leah, with Amy oblivious about the lies. As Amy tells Ste to admit the truth, they start receiving money. Amy is given a cheque from Warren Fox and realises they are in too deep. Amy eventually tells Ste that she will go along with the lie and use the money they receive to buy clothes and toys for Leah.

Ste and Amy's relationship turns violent, with Ste physically attacking Amy on several occasions. Ste injects drug-addicted Sasha with heroin. Sasha overdoses and Ste pulls her out of his flat before leaving her for dead. When Amy discovers this, she compares Ste with his mother. Ste then punches Amy, giving her a black eye. Leah's leukaemia is discovered not to be real. A disgusted Nancy, who is the aunt of leukaemia-sufferer Charlie, confronts Amy, who tells her it was Ste's idea. Ste is angry with Amy for telling Nancy it was him. He attacks her again. However, this time she fights back. Furious Ste punches her in the stomach before storming off. Amy again decides to move into her family home. However, an ashamed Mike does not answer the door as Amy sobs on the doorstep. With no other option, Amy goes back to violent Ste.

During an argument about Amy's ex-boyfriend Josh, Ste throws boiling water on Amy's arm. Amy is treated in hospital for the scold. The nurse spots that she is suffering from domestic violence, but Amy refuses to admit it. Ste grows jealous of Amy and her friends. After she appears home, Ste attacks her and cuts off her ponytail, which he claims makes her look like a child. Out of fear, Amy tells Ste to stop as she is pregnant, even though she is not. Ste stops and leaves. He appears the next day and apologises for attacking her, and admits his happiness about her apparent pregnancy. Amy then tells him she is not pregnant and she said it because she was scared. Ste does not get angry, and is ashamed of himself for scaring Amy. He collapses, sobbing into Amy's arms, and tells her he is sorry. Still frightened of him, Amy tells Ste they could start trying for a baby. Amy discovers she is pregnant and Ste is overjoyed. After Justin Burton collects a karaoke machine from the McQueens, Ste steals it and gives it to Amy as a present. Amy is angry when Justin approaches her and tells her the karaoke machine is stolen. Amy then tells Justin it was Ste. Ste turns on Amy for telling Justin who stole it and he attacks her again, despite her pregnancy. This proves the last straw for Amy, who walks out with Leah. Tina Reilly finds a sobbing Amy and she comforts her, before giving her a place to stay at the McQueens home. Amy confesses to Myra McQueen about the domestic abuse. Myra encourages her to tell Mike, which she does. Mike is enraged and he beats up Ste.

After being beaten up by Mike Barnes, Ste gets drunk in the SU Bar. Sarah finds him and shouts at him. Justin sticks up for him and forgives him for stealing the karaoke machine. Later on, Ste climbs to the top of the scaffolding outside the SU Bar, where he threatens to kill himself. Amy, Sarah and Mike arrive and are shocked at Ste's threat. Kieron Hobbs tries to talk Ste down as Amy, Sarah and Mike leave, believing he is attention-seeking. As they turn away, Ste falls from the scaffolding and breaks his leg. Amy visits Ste in hospital. Despite Ste's desperate pleas for the pair to get back together, Amy tells him she has had enough and leaves. After being discharged, Ste has a heart-to-heart with Justin, who feels sorry for Ste. Ste then allows Justin to move into the flat. Ste decides to pick his life up for his unborn child, getting a chef job at Il Gnosh and attending anger management classes. Ste befriends Natty, who breaks up a fight between Ste and Josh, who is back with Amy. Ste begins a short-lived relationship with Theresa McQueen but ends it to focus on getting Amy back. During a visit to see Amy, her waters break and she goes into labour in her home. Ste panics and phones his friend Daniel Raven, who arrives with his wife Abi, a nurse. Amy gives birth to a son called Lucas. Amy, however, suffers from post-natal depression, and leaves to live with her grandmother shortly after Lucas's birth.

Charity workers, Abi and Daniel, begin to help Ste with looking after Lucas, who moves in with Ste and Justin along with Leah. Unknown to Ste, Daniel and Abi plan to take Lucas, to replace their son who died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Daniel begins drugging and prank calling Ste, so he is too tired to look after Lucas. During this time, Ste helps Justin escape the police for apparently burning down The Loft. Realising he is now living by his own, Daniel asks Ste to move into his flat, which he does. Natty grows suspicious of Daniel's interests and warns Ste, who refuses to believe him after discovering Natty shook his own child after getting mystery prank calls during the night. Natty attacks Daniel after he taunts him over Ste and Lucas. Ste believes he cannot trust Natty. Ste falls asleep whilst looking after Lucas and is found by Mike, who then takes Lucas. When Daniel and Abi get home, Ste awakens and panics about Lucas's whereabouts. Ste and Daniel eventually find Lucas with Mike. Ste is angry about him taking Lucas and calls him a bad father and husband. Mike then punches Ste, who tells him he would no longer be able to see Lucas. After Mike confronts Abi over her interest in Lucas, Ste ends up telling Mike he is seeing a solicitor about getting an injunction on him. Ste begins to become dizzy from the drugs and takes his anger out on Leila Roy, who tells Tony Hutchinson, leading to Ste's firing.

Ste and Abi have a heart-to-heart until he mentions that Daniel met a couple who wanted to adopt a child, who, unknown to Ste, is Lucas. Abi is furious and she tells Daniel if he goes behind her back again, she will leave him and take Lucas with her. Daniel agrees, however goes behind her back again. Abi and Ste have another heart-to-heart, which leads to Abi kissing him. Ste tries his best to avoid Abi, who after getting him alone, kisses him again and sleeps with him. Guilty Abi tells Daniel she slept with Ste. Angry, Daniel tells Abi she has ruined their marriage and that Lucas will be going to the adoptive parents he interviewed. Ste goes from bad to worse as he nearly shakes Lucas. However, he is stopped by Daniel. Daniel convinces Ste to give Lucas to parents who will love and care for him, which Ste reluctantly agrees. Sarah and Zoë get involved and telephone Natty to help. Ste finally discovers the truth about Daniel and Abi, who has to decide to give Lucas to either Ste or Daniel. Abi gives Lucas to Ste as the police arrive and arrest Daniel after she calls them. The next day, Abi turns up claiming she is sorry and she loves both Ste and Lucas. Ste and Abi then plan to leave Hollyoaks together. However, Daniel turns up on bail and tells Ste that Abi is using him to get Lucas. Ste then attacks him and leaves, but begins to have doubt over Abi. Ste tells her he knows she just wants to get Lucas. Abi is heartbroken and is comforted by Daniel, who admits to still loving her. The pair then leave Hollyoaks. Ste then has to give Lucas back to Mike he is almost left homeless until Tony takes him in.

Local thug Gaz Bennett mugs Mercedes Fisher, who is looking after Lucas. Ste attacks Gaz, realising he could have injured Lucas. Later on in the week, Gaz is attacked and left in a coma by Anita Roy. Lauren Valentine suspects Ste might have been responsible. Natty returns to Hollyoaks and Ste is pleased. They decide to run Il Gnosh together when Tony and Dom Reilly are away. Ste and Natty turn the restaurant into a burger bar. Mike approaches Ste to do catering for Sarah's funeral, after her death weeks before. Ste reluctantly agrees. However, when Tony and Cindy Hutchinson return from their honeymoon, Tony sacks Ste and kicks him out of his home. At Sarah's funeral, Amy returns after several months away. Ste tries to get Amy to look after Lucas, which she tries. However, she cannot face either of her children yet, and leaves. Ste begins to stay in Relish, and is discovered by Lauren, Anita and Theresa. Ravi and Leila Roy agree to let Ste stay at their flat if he works in Relish, turning it into a restaurant rather than a burger bar. After further time away, Amy returns and begins to grow fonder of her children, despite admitting to not loving them. Ste tries to push Amy into changing Lucas’s nappy, so she gets used to being a mother. She tells him she has spent time with her children but has not fully recovered.


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', which he lost to Coronation Streetmarker actor Gray O'Brien for his portrayal of Tony Gordon. Richardson was also nominated for the award in 2008.

The storyline which involved Ste looking after Lucas and Abi and Daniel's plans to steal Lucas went on for several months, received a mixed review. Digital Spy posted a poll asking readers whether they thought the plot was anti-climatic. 76.6% of voters thought it was truly anti-climatic, 12.1% were indifferent and only 11.3% thought it lived up to its expectations.


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