EastEnders viewers left heartbroken as Stuart Highway reveals the truth about his past

In a special hour-long and post-watershed EastEnders (blame/thank the football) we saw the storyline involving new character Stuart Highway take a dark turn as he revealed the truth about his past.

Tonight’s (June 18) episode saw Mick (Danny Dyer) meet Stuart (Ricky Champ) in the cafe after he confronted his old friend about possibly being a paedophile last week and was told that Stuart is in fact a vigilante paedophile hunter.

Stuart talks about how he doesn’t use violence and poses as underage girls to get the offenders’ contact information to pass on the police, and he’s already helped to put 17 people behind bars. He tells Mick this because he wants the landlord to help him out.

In turn, Mick questions why Stuart is dedicating his time to such a cause, and Stuart reveals that it’s personal: he was abused by a guard when he was in a juvenile prison.

Viewers were absolutely devastated by his admission, admitting that they were led to previously dislike or suspect Stuart, and praised the soap for tackling the issue of institutionalised abuse.

Mick agrees to help Stuart out, but says that Stuart needs to get help himself. The two then go to a fast food place where Mick confronts one of the men.

Unfortunately, the plan goes to bust when Linda comes in and makes a scene. The man Mick was confronting turns out to be Stuart’s mate and the whole thing was a set-up, causing Mick to leave in embarrassment.

Outside, Stuart reveals his true colours: he blames Mick for letting him take the fall and going to prison when it should have been Mick. He tries to goad Mick into showing off his ‘darkness’, and laughs when he gets a punch in the face.

Can Mick get through to his friend and help him sort himself out? Will he still join Stuart on his endeavours? EastEnders next airs on Thursday (June 21) at 9:10pm.

Readers who are affected by the issues raised in this story are encouraged to contact the NSPCC on 0808 800 5000 (www.nspcc.org.uk). Readers in the US are encouraged to contact the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline on (1-800-422-4453) or the American SPCC (www.americanspcc.org).

Rape Crisis England and Wales works towards the elimination of sexual violence. If you’ve been affected by the issues raised in this story, you can access more information on their website or by calling the National Rape Crisis Helpline on 0808 802 9999. Rape Crisis Scotland’s helpline number is 08088 01 03 02.

Readers in the US are encouraged to contact RAINN, or the National Sexual Assault Hotline on 800-656-4673.

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