Ben Unwin tragically died a day short of his 42nd birthday after slowly fading from public view as the bad boy of Home And Away to a privacy-seeking solicitor.
The former actor, who starred on the Australian soap as Jesse McGregor between 1996 and 2000 – and then again from 2002 to 2005 – was found by New South Wales police last week while they were conducting a welfare check.
Sadly, Ben's body was found on August 14, just hours before his birthday.
In a statement to press, a police spokesperson said today: "At midday, police attended Minyon Fall, Whian Whian, responding to a concern for welfare.
"The body of a 41-year-old man was located. The death has not been treated as suspicious."
Ben first came to fame as Andrew in the Australian TV series Eggshells in 1991, before bagging the one-off role of Adam Story in another TV series called G.P. in 1993.
Months later, he auditioned for Home And Away and got the job, melting hearts across the world as the dark and brooding Jesse – for which he was nominated for a prestigious Logie Award for Most Popular New Talent in 1997.
In the same year, Ben was also put forward for Most Popular Newcomer gong at the National Television Awards.
His portrayal of the rebellious Jesse won him legions of fans – as well as getting him into plenty of trouble on the soap.
Jesse's plotlines included being framed for burning down his own bait shop for the insurance money, and spending time in prison for robbery.
At the same time as his TV work, Ben was busy behind the scenes as a director.
He directed the smash music videos for Chumbawamba's Tubthumping in 1997, along with the Boy George singles When Will You Learn and Love Is Leaving.
He worked with George again on the Culture Club videos for I Just Wanna Be Loved, Cold Shoulder and Your Kisses Are Charity, and once more on the Faithless video for Why Go?, which featured George.
Ben's last ever TV appearance was an uncredited scene as Jesse on Endless Summer: 30 Years Of Home And Away, which aired in Oz in 2018 to celebrate three decades of the soap.
In his later years, Ben worked as a senior solicitor who specialised in civil and commercial litigation in the city of Newcastle, NSW.
He worked for the law firm Whitelaw McDonald while completing his masters in law, having built up his career with roles at McCabes Lawyers, Curwoods Lawyers, Jirsch Sutherland IP, Fresh Fitness and Network 7 Media Group.
His colleagues described him as "a dedicated and practical lawyer who prioritises the needs of his clients", adding: "He is very approachable with a genuine interest in serving and assisting the community."
Ben was admitted as a solicitor of the Supreme Court of NSW and was a member of the Law Society in Australia. His special areas of interest were dispute resolution, personal injury claims and intellectual property law.
His Home And Away co-stars have been leading the tributes in the wake of Ben's death, with Ada Nicodemou writing: "I just woke up to the tragic news of Ben's passing, my heart goes out to his family."
Lynne McGranger added: "What a terrible tragedy. Sending my deepest condolences to his family and friends."
A spokeswoman for Channel Seven, which hosts the soap, said: "Cast and crew from Home and Away are saddened to learn of the passing of former cast mate, Ben Unwin.
"Ben's work in the role of Jesse McGregor is remembered with much affection. Ben's family and friends are in our thoughts and prayers."
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