Richard Aaronow Blair Venn
Richard Aaronow 2007-2008
Born: 1960 (later changed to 1956)
Children: Oliver and Declan
Occupation: Principal at Alkrington Grammar School
After becoming involved with Rebecca Napier when she was a teenager, controlling Richard Aaronow left her pregnant, with a son she gave up to the wealthy Barnes family. Against her better judgement, Rebecca became involved with Richard again several years later and things ended badly once again, with Rebecca being raped. She found herself pregnant to him for a second time, but vowed that she wouldn’t go back to him this time, moving around regularly with her second son, Declan, so that Richard wouldn’t find them. Although Richard did manage to track them down from time to time, Rebecca stayed strong and made sure that Declan never found out what kind of man his father was.
Many years later, Rebecca’s life was turned upside down when her first born son, Oliver, got in touch, having found out that he was adopted. Though she gradually welcomed him into her life, Rebecca struggled when he started asking about his father. At first, Rebecca claimed the Paul Robinson, the father of Oliver’s girlfriend Elle, was his dad, since she’d had a brief fling with him around nine months before Oliver’s birth. But when DNA tests ruled Paul out, Rebecca was forced to admit the truth, and told both Paul and Oliver about the rape and why she didn’t want to pursue the matter, or let Declan in on the secret. But Elle had other ideas and, unaware of the true reasons for Rebecca’s desire to keep Oliver away from his father, she found out Richard’s name after seeing Declan’s birth certificate, as she arranged a job for him at Lassiter’s hotel. A quick internet search showed that Richard was still in Melbourne, as principal of the prestigious Alkrington Grammar School. And so, with little thought for the consequences, Elle went to the school to meet Richard.
Elle lied to Richard that her surname was Roberts and her parents were looking for somewhere to school her troubled little brother, Benjy. But as Richard asked how he could get in touch with her parents, the lie started to unravel and she quickly claimed that she was doing all this behind her parents' backs. As she rushed to leave, Elle dropped her bag, not realising that her I.D. for Lassiter's Hotel, which she co-owned, had fallen out. Richard quickly realised that there was more to the situation and followed Elle to Lassiter's, where he spotted her with Rebecca. The next day, he found Elle in The General Store and handed back her I.D. before demanding to know the truth. Having found out the truth about the rape and Rebecca's reluctance to talk about it, Elle was horrified that she'd brought this man back into everyone's lives and refused as Richard demanded to know exactly where Rebecca and Declan were living. Elle later gathered Paul, Rebecca and Oliver and explained what she'd done, so a panicked Rebecca started packing, determined to leave once again, as Richard was too close. Paul convinced her and Declan to move into his place, but as they gathered their belongings, Richard phoned Rebecca, warning her that she couldn't run forever. Back inside her place, a desperate Rebecca started smashing things up, before calling the police and claiming that Richard had gone crazy, only for the whole thing to be witnessed by Oliver.
Following this incident, Oliver went to the school, deciding that he wanted to get his father's side of the story too. Richard explained that he hadn't even known that Oliver existed, or that Rebecca had given him to the Barneses, only finding out a few years later when she got in touch. She then fell pregnant again but refused to let him have anything to do with Declan. Oliver decided to continue seeing Richard, while Declan then became suspicious and checked his brother's phone, getting Richard's number and also contacting him, only to punch him in the face and tell him to stay out of their lives. With that, Richard sat Declan down and explained what Rebecca had been accusing him of for years, though Declan immediately sided with his mum and went home to support her. The next week, following the death of Rebecca's father, Alan, Declan got back in touch with Richard, claiming that he wanted to get to know him now, as he'd missed out on knowing his grandfather. They arranged a fishing trip, but Declan's true intentions didn't take long to surface, as the pair sat alone in a small boat, he grabbed an oar and turned on Richard. In the tussle, Richard fell into the river and disappeared, with Declan unable to bring himself to save him. But at the riverbank, Declan found himself confronted by Richard, who had managed to get to safety and was in the process of threatening his son when Oliver, Rebecca and Paul turned up. Seeing Richard threaten Declan was proof enough for Oliver and he apologised to Rebecca for doubting her, while Richard went to the police to press charges against his youngest son. At the same time, Rebecca finally found the courage to speak up about the rape and the police urged Richard to rethink his allegations against his son, and to stay away from Rebecca while the matter was investigated. But Richard wasn't about to let the matter drop and, having taken long service leave from work, he told Rebecca that he'd be sticking around in Erinsborough.
The following week, Oliver and Declan were shocked to receive letters from Richard, explaining that, when Declan was born, he'd nominated them both for membership of the Melbourne Cricket Club, and, when their memberships came through, he had a couple of medallions engraved, which he included with the letters. Richard continued to twist the knife by visiting Erinsborough High - the school Declan had just started attending - to speak to them about the vacant principal's position. Rebecca and Paul had finally had enough, but realised that Richard hadn't slipped up in 17 years, so it was unlikely that they'd ever have anything to hold against him, and it got worse when the police informed Rebecca that they wouldn't be taking the rape case to court. Paul decided to go and have a quiet word with Richard, mentioning that he and Rebecca were planning to marry, and Declan would be changing his name to Robinson, before returning the medallions. Unfortunately, Richard failed to respond, simply laughing in Paul's face. Rebecca then learnt that her only option to get justice was to take out a civil case against Richard, thought it would be a long, and slow, process. Her lawyers, Toadie and Rosie then proceeded to contact every single woman Richard had worked with, in the hope that perhaps he'd behaved in a similar way with one of them. They struck gold when they found Karen Ogden, who had been teaching at Ford College when Richard was the vice principal. The pair had dated, during which Richard had accidentally called her 'Becca' a few times, but his weird behaviour had put her off, though he continued to call her up out of the blue, hoping for a reconciliation. Though Karen was willing to share this information with the lawyers, she insisted that she couldn't give a signed statement or appear in court.
A few days later, Richard followed Rebecca, Paul and Declan as they headed to the country for a few days. When Rebecca went off to collect some wood, Richard went after her and she threatened him with a branch, telling him to stay out of their lives. When he refused to back off, and she realised that she wasn't capable of hurting anyone like that, he reached out to grab her and she pushed him away, causing him to fall and hit his head. Rebecca ran back and told Declan to call for an ambulance, but Richard failed to regain consciousness and, at the hospital, the Napiers were told that he was seriously ill, not due to the accident, but because he was in end-stage renal failure. After learning that his father only had weeks to live, then overhearing him tell Rebecca that he would never give her the satisfaction of confessing to the rape, Declan decided to keep his father around to face justice, by offering to donate a kidney. Rebecca refused to give her permission, but she couldn't do anything to stop Oliver, who agreed to have the operation, allowing Richard to believe that he was doing it out of love. Though Oliver made it through the operation with relatively few problems, Richard's health took a turn for the worse, and, although Karen came to the hospital and agreed to give evidence, Rebecca decided to wait until he was well enough to come to court and face up to what he had done.
Unfortunately for Rebecca, Richard's health continued to decline and, after spending some months at the Erinsborough Care Facility, he was admitted to Erinsborough Hospital in his final days. Dr Karl Kennedy - a friend and neighbour of Oliver and the Napiers - found himself treating Richard, unaware who the dying man was. Concerned that Richard seemed to have accepted his fate and wanted nobody there, nor any of his family informed, Karl decided to do a spot of research, contacting the donor association, and learning that Richard received his kidney from his son - Oliver Barnes. Unaware of the history involved, Karl told Richard that he knew Oliver and Declan, and couldn't believe that they would leave their father to die alone - but Richard refused to listen, telling him that he did not want his sons contacted and, as his doctor, Karl was bound by that decision. But Karl struggled to leave it at that and started questioning Oliver about his dad, and whether he wanted him to know about the birth of his first grandchild, Chloe. As Oliver thought about it, Paul became suspicious, following Karl onto the wards where he saw Richard being treated. Karl quickly ushered Paul out of the room, telling him that Richard only had a matter of hours to leave and was about to experience a very unpleasant death, so Paul opted not to tell Rebecca, worried that Richard might refuse to apologise to her, or say something even worse, in his final moments. But Oliver and Declan had already learnt of Richard's whereabouts from a nurse at the care facility and soon they, and Rebecca, were standing by his bed, where Richard finally told Rebecca that he was sorry. Satisfied, but ultimately disappointed that she never got her day in court, Rebecca fled from the room, while Oliver and Declan waited a little longer, until they got the news that Richard had died.
• Blair Venn previously appeared in 2000 as Brendan Bell