Dean Lockwood was an employee of Phil Jennings. He was manager of one of Phil's business enterprises - an amusement arcade frequented by pupils from Weatherfield Comprehensive, having worked for Phil since leaving school. In October 1990, councillor and concerned mother Deirdre Barlow complained to Dean about his allowing underage children on the premises. When faced with the determined woman, Dean joked around, pretending that he couldn't tell how old customers were despite many of them being in school uniform.
Having met Deirdre before and got on with her, Phil went to see her and promised they'd improve measures to keep the children out. On an inspection of the arcades with Phil, Deirdre was pleased by the sight of Dean throwing out a 15-year-old schoolboy, although she suspected that Phil had set it up. Deirdre was satisfied when Phil had a new sign put up in the arcade refusing entry to under 16's.
In 1991, Phil rented the factory unit at 14 Coronation Street as a maintenance and repair premises for his arcade machines, and hired Dean to work there. In June, when Phil failed to pay his staff their wages, Dean told Deirdre, Phil's partner who was running PJ Promotions, that it was a common occurrence and that Phil always put things right eventually. Dean worked with Deirdre and soon a mutual respect developed.
Meanwhile, the cash flow situation dragged on and after three weeks without pay Dean demanded that Phil cough up, leading Phil to turn nasty and threaten to tell Dean's ladies and their offspring where they could find him. A week later, Dean blabbed to Don Brennan about the extent of Phil's debts, leading to a confrontation between Phil and Don which ended with Phil's associate Scotch Tommy thumping Phil as a reminder that he owed him money too. Phil was never seen in Coronation Street again, leading Deirdre to worry that his debtors had done away with him. The mystery was solved when Dean gave Deirdre an address where he'd once delivered something to Phil, which turned out to be Phil's secret wife's flat where Deirdre found Phil, alive and well, preparing to leave the country.