played by Mark Furze
Eric Dalby is a bully and a troublemaker - and a clever one at that. This good-looking teen seems to have no respect for authority, or for the feelings of his victims.
For him, causing trouble is a delicious pastime. It seems he's a chip off the old block!
He grew up in Yabbie Creek as an only child. He and his mother Maggie were extremely close. She saw beyond his rebellious exterior to the playful, insecure boy beneath. His father Owen was a different story - an authoritarian, he and Dalby never saw eye to eye. Owen sees Dalby as a disappointment and a troublemaker. He's always been extremely hard on the boy and often resorts to physical punishment. Of course, this makes Dalby rebel even more.
Maggie's death devastated both Dalby and Owen, and their relationship deteriorated further. They had no other family to turn to for support. As Dalby's behavioural problems increased, the family's friends turned their back on him. They pitied Owen for having such a troublesome son and were oblivious to the abuse that was taking place.
Unable to deal with his grief over Maggie's death, Owen turned to alcohol. Owen sees much of his wife in Dalby and he is a constant, painful reminder of his loss. His beatings of Dalby have become a manifestation of Owen's personal unravelling. The darker and more irrational Owen becomes, the greater the abuse. Nevertheless, Owen has been careful to ensure the wounds he inflicts on Dalby do not show. However, when Owen discovered Dalby had brought marijuana heads into the house, he totally lost control. He lashed out at Dalby in a vicious rage. It was the first time Dalby's injuries were obvious to the outside world. Owen gave Dalby one last chance to sort himself out.
Dalby lives in a state of emotional conflict. He is terrified by his father but emotionally unable to report him. His self-esteem is so low that he feels he deserves the beatings. Ironically, the only way he can deal with his abuse is to pass it down the line and bully weaker students. Dalby finds great pleasure in the humiliation of others. If he finds a person's emotional wound, he'll dig his fingers into it. This behaviour gives him a sense of power and control that is absent from his private life.
While Dalby has never performed well academically, he is a natural sportsman. When not too bruised, he often finds solace in the pool. For him, swimming is a wonderful escape from his father's abuse and the outside world. It is the only place where he finds peace. While no Olympic hopeful, his swimming was good enough to impress Hyde. After a prank went horribly wrong, Dalby was expelled from Yabbie Creek High. With Kim no longer a student, Hyde was desperate for a strong swimmer for the swim team and so welcomed Dalby into his Summer Bay High, despite his history.
Just like his father, Dalby is skilled at hiding his true colours when it suits him. He looks carefully at the adult world and identifies the people with power and influence - people like Hyde. He then uses the full arsenal of his charm and cunning to win them over. He doesn't care about the rest of the world - he's happy for them to see his true unpleasant nature. To Warren (Wazza) Stevens, an unintelligent thug at Summer Bay High, Dalby is a legend and a role model. Wazza is in awe of the devious Dalby and follows him blindly.
The increasing unravelling and irrationality of his father will lead to a final confrontation with Dalby that will change their lives forever.