When Kathy and her husband Gavin were killed in a car crash in March 2006, Ian brought Ben back to Walford. Ian was against Ben spending time with Phil, who had seen little of Ben since his emigration to South Africa. Many fights between Phil and Ian ensued, with Ben caught in the middle. Though initially frightened of Phil, Ben started to bond with his father and, despite objections from Ian, Ben eventually opted to live with Phil.
Ben grew close to his father and did not want to share his affections, so he instantly resented Phil dating Stella Crawford. With encouragement from his friend Abi Branning, Ben played various vengeful pranks on Stella and refused to accept her acts of friendship. In a bid to get closer to Ben, Stella took him to the London Dungeon, promising him that she was not trying to replace his mother, but Ben got lost in the house of mirrors, and Stella hid and watched Ben's panic and confusion as he called for her. From then on, Stella began using underhand tactics to make Ben more obedient. Unbeknown to Phil, she began to psychologically and physically abuse Ben, doing such things as splitting him and Abi up, burning his hand, pinching him, pouring orange juice over his bed to make him look like he wet himself, locking him in a garage over night, watching him get attacked by bullies, telling him Phil did not love him, and breaking his hearing aid. Ben attempted to alert Ian to Stella's nastiness, falsely claiming that bruises on his back were Stella's handywork, but after witnessing the resulting commotion, Ben admitted to Phil that the bruises were actually caused by bullies. Phil was angered by Ben's dishonesty, and Stella used this to her advantage, convincing Ben that Phil was ashamed to call him his son and forcing him to rely on her more and more as his only ally. Stella manipulated Ben into persuading Phil to propose to her, which Phil did to provide Ben with a stable family unit.
On Stella and Phil's wedding day, Ben stood up to Stella, revealing that he hated her and did not want her to marry his father. Stella became viciously insane, dragged Ben aside and scratched at him until he bled, causing one of her fake nails to lodge into his skin, warning he would die if he tried to prevent the wedding. Ben found strength and stood up as the marriage began, begging for help. He broke down in tears and Phil was horrified to see the extent of the mental and physical harm Stella had inflicted on his son. Peggy looked after Ben whilst Phil chased Stella to an old factory, where she threw herself off the roof and died instantly. The Mitchells spent months coming to terms with what had occurred to Ben.
Ben developed an interest in music and dancing in 2008. His grandmother Peggy took him tap-dancing, something they kept from Phil, who believed dancing would turn Ben into a sissy. Ben passed a dancing exam in May 2008 with distinction, but when Phil discovered the truth in July, he was furious and forced him to quit dancing.