In his second episode, Buster is revealed as a convict serving time in a prison. On a day release, he stays overnight in Shirley's caravan, but is unknowingly kidnapped when Mick and Dean tow the caravan away, believing Shirley to be inside. In Walford, after talking with Buster about his longtime association with the Carters, Dean works it out that Buster is his father. They bond and plan with Shirley to escape together. Mick alerts the authorities and Buster is arrested for not reporting back after his day release and is given a month's extra prison sentence. Buster then realises that Mick is his son as well. Buster later returns to Walford on with Dean and explains that Dean visited him in prison and that after he got released, he booked a one-way ticket to Greece for him, Shirley and Dean to start a new life together. Later, when Dean decides to visit his grandfather, Stan Carter, at the hospital, Buster takes him there, while Shirley packs at home. When the police arrive at the hospital and arrest Dean for breaking bail conditions, Buster thinks that Mick called them, and confronts him and his fiancée Linda Carter the next day. When they explain that they did not call the police, Buster works out that it was, in fact, Shirley who called the police, and confronts her at home. Furious, he goes to the train station to leave for Greece alone, where Mick and Linda's children, Nancy and Lee, follow him and explain that they need to be there for Stan. Later that night, Buster unexpectedly shows up at Shirley's flat, having had a change of heart and deciding to be there for Dean. He subsequently visits and supports Dean throughout his time in prison, informing him when Stan dies and helps keep Dean's salon, Blades, afloat with Shirley. After Dean is released without charge, Shirley's aunt Babe, organises a party for him in Blades, during which a man throws a brick through the window.
Buster discovers that Babe paid the man, so he visits Babe at the Carters' pub, The Queen Victoria, and pours her trifle over her head. When Mick's son Ollie is born, Buster begins to bond with Mick when he helps him build a cot. Buster discovers that he has another grandchild from Dean and Shabnam Masood. Upon discovering that she suffers from cystic fibrosis, Dean breaks down in Buster's arms. After Dean attacks his fiancée Roxy Mitchell, Buster realises he is a rapist and disowns him. He later visits him in prison, where he and Shirley warn him not to contact them and Buster says that he has friends in prison that could make Dean's life hell. When Ian Beale decides to sell his restaurant to a supermarket chain, Buster leads a campaign to stop from him selling, during which he and Ian's mother, Kathy Sullivan, become attracted to each other. Buster later propositions Kathy for a secret relationship as he believes he is with the wrong woman and begins secretly meeting her without telling Shirley. When he sees Kathy's estranged husband Gavin Sullivan take Kathy in his car, he tells Gavin's daughter Sharon, and fearing for Kathy's safety, they go to Gavin's address. When they get there, a woman falls from the balcony onto the car and lies dead on the ground, and Buster thinks it is Kathy. However, it is Gavin's sister Margaret, and Buster finds Kathy hiding in one of the rooms and helps her escape Gavin's house. Later, Kathy tells Buster she needs to end their relationship because she feels things between them are getting too serious. However, they passionately kiss and are seen by Kathy's former husband, Phil. They start to see each other secretly and eventually sleep together. However, when Kathy's son Ben Mitchell is attacked in a homophobic attack, she ends the affair, leaving Buster heartbroken. Lee realises Buster is cheating on Shirley and tells Mick, who confronts Buster, but Buster does not reveal Kathy's identity. Mick urges Buster to confess to Shirley or he will have nothing to do with him any more. Realising that he no longer loves Shirley, Buster opts for the latter and decides to leave Walford with Kathy. However she leaves Buster heartbroken again when she chooses to remain with her family, so Buster leaves alone.