Take a fresh look at your lifestyle.

- Advertisement -

Brett Finch avoids jail after sharing ‘depraved’ child abuse material

NRL star Brett Finch has avoided jail after being convicted of sharing ‘depraved’ child sex abuse material amid a crippling cocaine addiction.

Judge Judge Phillip Mahony sentenced Finch to a two-year good behaviour bond in Sydney’s Downing Centre District Court on Wednesday afternoon. 

Finch had been under the influence of drugs when he left a series of ‘twisted’ messages on a gay chat line describing a desire to perform sex acts on boys as young as 12.  

The retired representative halfback pleaded guilty in August to one charge of using a carriage service to transmit, publish or promote child abuse. 

Former NRL star Brett Finch says he was trying to buy cocaine when he left child abuse messages on a gay sex hotline during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic. Finch finally learnt his fate for sharing child sexual abuse material on Wednesday 

Psychologist Chris Lennings told the court Finch's offending was not sexually motivated, but that it was important the ex-footballer was subjected to 'biological drug testing', such as hair follicle tests, in the future. Finch is pictured above with his wife Elli Johnston

Psychologist Chris Lennings told the court Finch's offending was not sexually motivated, but that it was important the ex-footballer was subjected to 'biological drug testing', such as hair follicle tests, in the future. Finch is pictured above with his wife Elli Johnston

Psychologist Chris Lennings told the court Finch’s offending was not sexually motivated, but that it was important the ex-footballer was subjected to ‘biological drug testing’, such as hair follicle tests, in the future. Finch is pictured above with his wife Elli Johnston

The maximum penalty for the offence is 15 years in prison and the Crown had asked Finch be sentenced to full-time custody. 

The 41-year-old admitted feeling disgust at himself for making the phone calls and said his only intention had been to obtain cocaine as his drug problem ‘spiralled out of control’.

Judge Mahony described the content of the messages as ‘highly depraved’ and ‘morally reprehensible.’

But he accepted Finch had been motivated by a desperate and ‘patently absurd’ attempt to obtain drugs rather than him having any sexual interest in children.

He noted there were no children involved, no images had been created or shared, the offending was ‘entirely unsophisticated’ and Finch acted alone while on drug-fuelled binges.

Finch had no criminal record, had given his time to coaching and charities and had low prospects of reoffending.

‘I accept that he is genuinely remorseful for his offending conduct,’ Judge Mahony said. 

Finch admitted using the sex chat service FastMeet but said any messages he left about wanting to have physical encounters with teen boys was 'just s*** talk'. He is pictured reporting on bail

Finch admitted using the sex chat service FastMeet but said any messages he left about wanting to have physical encounters with teen boys was 'just s*** talk'. He is pictured reporting on bail

Finch admitted using the sex chat service FastMeet but said any messages he left about wanting to have physical encounters with teen boys was ‘just s*** talk’. He is pictured reporting on bail

Judge Mahony had been ‘generally impressed’ by Finch’s evidence and noted he had demonstrated insight into his addiction and the ‘enormity of the challenges he faced staying clean.

The father-of-one had been subjected to media scrutiny ‘above and beyond’ that faced by someone without his profile who committed the same crime.

Under the terms of Finch’s recognisance release order he must be of good behaviour, not travel interstate or overseas without permission and under drug testing and treatment for his addiction. 

Finch told Judge Mahony that at the height of his drug addiction, which began in 2013, he was using 12 to 25 grams of cocaine a week and going on five-day benders. 

Finch, pictured with wife Elli, was caught up in a wider investigation conducted under the banner of Strike Force Hank by officers from the NSW Child Abuse and Sex Crimes Squad

Finch, pictured with wife Elli, was caught up in a wider investigation conducted under the banner of Strike Force Hank by officers from the NSW Child Abuse and Sex Crimes Squad

Finch, pictured with wife Elli, was caught up in a wider investigation conducted under the banner of Strike Force Hank by officers from the NSW Child Abuse and Sex Crimes Squad

There was evidence he from suffered post-concussion syndrome from repeated head knocks when playing football and had failed to adapt to life away from the limelight. 

The court heard Finch was so ashamed of his actions he rarely left his home and since his arrest he had been abused when out in public.

He had unsuccessful applied for 300 jobs, was living off Centrelink payments and would be at grave physical risk from ‘hardened criminals’ in prison.

Defence barrister Mike Smith said his client’s public profile meant the effect of widespread and ongoing publicity about his offending was ‘out of all proportion’ with his actual crime.

‘His prospects of employment have been decimated by the media publicity surrounding this matter which would not have occurred but for his former profession,’ Mr Smith told the court.

Mr Smith said the reporting of Finch’s conduct had been accurate but the ‘casual reader’ would nonetheless wrongly believe ‘that this man likes having sex with children’.

‘He will be saddled with that forever,’ Mr Smith said. ‘He is not a paedophile and is not motivated by sexual attraction to children.’ 

Mr Smith said Finch’s prospects for rehabilitation were good but he had to address his drug addiction, which would not be done if he was imprisoned.

Finch told the court he left ‘twisted’ phone messages on FastMeet – a service for gay men – as he thought ‘hypersexualised’ users could be a last resort to get drugs. 

‘I was disgusted in myself that I would leave these messages in the hope of obtaining drugs,’ Finch told the court. ‘Those words should never have come out of my mouth. I regret it now. It makes me sick now.’ 

Finch said his only goal in leaving the messages was to find a source to buy cocaine, telling the court he was introduced to the service by drug dealer connections. 

Finch told police he was 'on drugs' when he made the recordings, he had not initiated any sexual conversation about children and any reference to wanting physical encounters with teen boys was 'just s*** talk'. Finch is seen above being arrested at his home in December 2021

Finch told police he was 'on drugs' when he made the recordings, he had not initiated any sexual conversation about children and any reference to wanting physical encounters with teen boys was 'just s*** talk'. Finch is seen above being arrested at his home in December 2021

Finch told police he was ‘on drugs’ when he made the recordings, he had not initiated any sexual conversation about children and any reference to wanting physical encounters with teen boys was ‘just s*** talk’. Finch is seen above being arrested at his home in December 2021 

He said in the Covid-19 pandemic dealers were not on the roads and that he tried every drug contact in his phone before turning to FastMeet in desperation. 

Mr Smith had asked Finch: ‘Have you ever had a sexual interest in children?’

Finch: ‘Never.’

Messages Finch left on the service were revealed in an agreed statement of facts tendered to court and included material too graphic to publish. 

‘Yeah how you going mate?’ Finch asked in one message sent in November 2020.

‘My name is Brad, 35, masculine build, married. Love to have a hot chat, talk about real kinky, having a threesome with a nice 16-year-old boy.’

In another, Finch said: ‘G’day mate, married guy, 39, muscular bod, would love to be outside, you and me in swimmers, a nice little 16-year-old surfer boy comes past.’

Finch had no criminal record, had given his time to coaching and charities and had low prospects of reoffending. 'I accept that he is genuinely remorseful for his offending conduct,' Judge Mahony said

Finch had no criminal record, had given his time to coaching and charities and had low prospects of reoffending. 'I accept that he is genuinely remorseful for his offending conduct,' Judge Mahony said

Finch had no criminal record, had given his time to coaching and charities and had low prospects of reoffending. ‘I accept that he is genuinely remorseful for his offending conduct,’ Judge Mahony said

In December 2020 year Finch sent messages describing a desire to perform sexual acts with a 12-year-old boy. 

Finch told police he was ‘on drugs’ when he made the recordings, he had not initiated any sexual conversation about children and any reference to wanting physical encounters with teen boys was ‘just s*** talk’.  

The retired footballer stopped using the chat line in early 2021 after he got a reply from a user ‘who wanted to take me up’ and mentioned ‘granddaughters’, the court heard.

The reply made Finch realise his behaviour could contribute to paedophilia. 

‘It made me utterly sick, I was disgusted,’ he told the court. 

‘I instantly told him he was a sick f*** and to f*** off. I just wanted to strangle the bloke through the phone.’

League great Craig Young wrote a glowing endorsement for Finch, whose father Robert was a teammate at the Dragons in the 1970s. Young stepped down as St George Illawarra chairman after conceding it had been an 'error of judgement' to write the reference on club letterhead

League great Craig Young wrote a glowing endorsement for Finch, whose father Robert was a teammate at the Dragons in the 1970s. Young stepped down as St George Illawarra chairman after conceding it had been an 'error of judgement' to write the reference on club letterhead

League great Craig Young wrote a glowing endorsement for Finch, whose father Robert was a teammate at the Dragons in the 1970s. Young stepped down as St George Illawarra chairman after conceding it had been an ‘error of judgement’ to write the reference on club letterhead 

Finch, whose wife Elli is the daughter of Australian Football Hall of Famer and Carlton great Wayne ‘The Dominator’ Johnston, has spoken publicly about his past problems with alcohol and drugs. 

He had once been in demand as a paid public speaker and had freely given his time to charities but had now ‘lost everything’.

‘I understand why no one wants to come near me,’ Finch said.

‘I’ve got no one else to blame but myself… it’s hurt so many other people and that’s what I’m sorry for.’ 

Psychologist Chris Lennings told the court Finch’s offending was not sexually motivated, but that it was important the ex-footballer was subjected to drug tests. 

‘In my assessment he does not present as having a sexual deviance ,’ Dr Lennings said.

Finch played 330 first grade games for the Raiders, Roosters, Eels and Storm in the NRL and Wigan in the UK Super League. He is pictured right celebrating a win playing for NSW in game one of the 2006 State of Origin series in Sydney

Finch played 330 first grade games for the Raiders, Roosters, Eels and Storm in the NRL and Wigan in the UK Super League. He is pictured right celebrating a win playing for NSW in game one of the 2006 State of Origin series in Sydney

Finch played 330 first grade games for the Raiders, Roosters, Eels and Storm in the NRL and Wigan in the UK Super League. He is pictured right celebrating a win playing for NSW in game one of the 2006 State of Origin series in Sydney

Rugby league great Craig Young wrote a glowing endorsement for Finch, whose father Robert was a teammate of his at the Dragons in the 1970s.

Young stepped down as chairman of St George Illawarra after conceding it had been an ‘error of judgement’ to write the reference on club letterhead. 

The NRL Hall of Famer had told the court he did not believe Finch had any sexual interest in children but had a drug problem and said he wanted to help him recover from his addiction.  

Finch played 330 first grade games for the Raiders, Roosters, Eels and Storm in the NRL and Wigan in the UK Super League. 

He played three State of Origins for NSW and won a premiership with Melbourne in 2009 but that title was stripped due to salary cap violations.

Finch’s crowning moment came in the 2006 Origin opener when he kicked a match-winning field goal for the Blues.

After retirement from league Finch worked in commentary for 2GB, Nine and Fox Sports but eventually lost all those jobs. 

How Brett Finch was caught up in an investigation into paedophiles

Finch's solicitor Paul McGirr (left) said his client had been caught up in a wider police investigation into the activities of offenders he had never met

Finch's solicitor Paul McGirr (left) said his client had been caught up in a wider police investigation into the activities of offenders he had never met

Finch’s solicitor Paul McGirr (left) said his client had been caught up in a wider police investigation into the activities of offenders he had never met

Finch was caught up in an investigation into users of the FastMeet sex chat line which was conducted under the banner of Strike Force Hank.

Police became aware of Finch’s use of the service after Victorian detectives arrested a convicted paedophile who had been using the service to exchange child abuse material with other men.

FastMeet operates on multiple platforms including a website and mobile phone app. A live chat room allows users to leave sexually explicit voice messages.

Finch left such messages on FastMeet six times between November 2020 and January 2021. He says he was merely trying to buy cocaine.

Messages Finch left on the service were revealed in an agreed statement of facts tendered to court and included material too graphic to publish. 

Finch was called up to play State of Origin for NSW in 2006 and famously kicked the match-winning field goal in game one of the series. He is pictured after kicking that goal

Finch was called up to play State of Origin for NSW in 2006 and famously kicked the match-winning field goal in game one of the series. He is pictured after kicking that goal

Finch was called up to play State of Origin for NSW in 2006 and famously kicked the match-winning field goal in game one of the series. He is pictured after kicking that goal

‘Yeah how you going mate?’ Finch asked in one message sent in November 2020.

‘My name is Brad, 35, masculine build, married. Love to have a hot chat, talk about real kinky, having a threesome with a nice 16-year-old boy.’

In another, Finch said: ‘G’day mate, married guy, 39, muscular bod, would love to be outside, you and me in swimmers, a nice little 16-year-old surfer boy comes past.’

In December 2020 year Finch sent messages describing a desire to perform sexual acts with a 12-year-old boy. 

Finch told police he was ‘on drugs’ when he made the recordings, he had not initiated any sexual conversation about children and reference to wanting physical encounters with teen boys was ‘just s*** talk’.  

Solicitor Paul McGirr said his client had been ‘swept up’ in the wider police investigation sparked by the arrest of the Victorian paedophile.

‘Brett Finch wasn’t the focal point of the investigation and in that particular respect his offending was isolated,’ Mr McGirr said.

‘He doesn’t know any of the co-accused and didn’t offend for the almost 12 months before he was arrested.’ 

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.