Ronnie spent the majority of his time at sea, where he worked on the ships. Although devoted to his family, Ronnie regularly beat Sandra in outbursts brought on by drink. He was usually able to talk Sandra round the next day but after his latest attack in May 1988, Sandra decided she'd had enough and did a flit with Jason while Ronnie was at sea.
On his next visit home the following month, Ronnie attempted to track Sandra down and made enquiries at the Rovers Return after learning that she was working as a barmaid in one of the local pubs. Without thinking, Gloria Todd told him that Sandra worked there as a cleaner but Bet Gilroy intervened before she told him Sandra's address, claiming that they didn't know where she lived. However, the damage had been done; Ronnie started hanging around the Rovers, and badgered Sandra to talk to him whenever he saw her, without success. He also drank at the Rovers when Sandra wasn't around, drowning his sorrows while giving Bet his side of the story. According to Ronnie, he would do anything for Sandra and Jason: he once gave up his job for Sandra. Increasingly sympathetic to Ronnie's cause, Bet passed on to Sandra Ronnie's message that he just wanted a chance to explain and that if she didn't want him back, he would walk away. To get it over with, Sandra agreed to a meeting but insisted on it taking place in public at the Rovers. There, Ronnie pleaded for another chance, promising her was a changed man, but Sandra had heard it all before and told him their marriage was over.
Ronnie remained ever-present at the Rovers on his last day before returning to sea, his outer shell of calm beginning to crack as he complained to Bet that Sandra regularly goaded him and that she didn't know what Sandra was capable of. After catching a glimpse of Sandra in the Street, a drunken Ronnie followed her home from the Corner Shop and refused to leave, asking her again to take him back. Although he promised he wouldn't hit her, Sandra's refusal to acquiesce brought out his temper, and soon his fists. Jason ran off to get help, but by the time Alan Bradley and Ken Barlow arrived on the scene, Ronnie was long gone, and Sandra's face was cut and bruised. For the first time, Sandra complained about Ronnie to the police, and was granted an injunction against him so that she would finally be free of him.