Syd MacFarlane is a member of the criminal MacFarlane family, who was transported to Hotten Crown Court in the same prison van as Adam Barton in January 2018. Talkative Syd tried to converse with a brooding Adam, questioning him about his manslaughter charge before reeling off the expensive list of charges he was facing. Suddenly, the van they were traveling in came to a halt and the guards were pulled from the van and tied up. Adam's step-father, Cain Dingle, climbed aboard the prison van and escorted Syd away to make it look like Syd was behind the escape. Syd was put in a truck to Scotland whilst Adam ended up on a cargo ship heading for Amsterdam.

Three months later, Syd spied on Cain's nephew Aaron Dingle and his boyfriend Robert Sugden. Whilst Aaron was alone with Robert's infant son Seb, Syd walked into their house and picked up Seb, threatening Aaron, Cain and Seb unless Aaron payed him £100k. Later in the day, Syd notified a mystery person that he'd visited Aaron and he got the message. However, Aaron didn't take Syd seriously so with the help of Cain, he locked Syd in a cage and left him by a lake. A furious Syd managed to escape and retaliated by kidnapping Aaron and holding him at gunpoint. Syd sent Robert a video message threatening to kill Aaron if he didn't come up with the £100k, which Robert did with the help of Joe Tate.

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