Disgraced former NRL star Brett Finch says he left vile child abuse messages in a desperate attempt to obtain drugs and blamed the “horrendous” offending on his addiction, a court has heard.
Finch, 41, is fighting to avoid being sent to jail after he used a gay sex chat service to send fantasies about young boys and on Monday, told a court how he was now “disgusted” in himself.
The former NSW State of Origin hero has suffered a dramatic fall from grace after he pleaded guilty to one count of using a carriage service to make available child abuse material.
According to a statement of agreed facts signed by Finch, between November 2020 and January 2021 he used the FastMeet service to send messages to other men about wanting to have sex with pubescent and teenage boys.
Many of the shocking messages are too graphic to publish.
Giving evidence at a sentence hearing in Sydney’s Downing Centre District Court on Monday, Finch denied having a sexual interest in children or ever accessing child abuse material online.
“Have you ever had a sexual interest in children?” Finch was asked by his barrister Mike Smith.
“Never,” Finch replied.
He described how, at the height of his addiction, he would use 12g to 25g of cocaine and go on five-day benders.
He said he began using the FastMeet service because he was told by his dealer it could be used to source drugs.
Finch also told the court that during one of his stints in rehab, he had heard gay men talk about how methamphetamine made them “hypersexual”.
He said that in his mind, if he left a “twisted” message for other users, those that replied would be likely to have drugs.
“In my mind, I believed that leaving twisted messages, if I got a reply, I’d have more chance of obtaining drugs,” Finch said.
He was identified after NSW Police launched Strike Force Hank to investigate a group of people using the FastMeet service to exchange child abuse material.
Over the course of three months, Finch sent other users voice messages containing graphic descriptions of sexual acts he wanted to perform on teenagers and boys, some as young as 12 years old, which are too graphic to publish.
“Yeah how you going mate?” read one message he sent on November 6, 2020.
“My name is Brad, 35, masculine build, married, 7 inch cut C***.”
Finch was arrested when police raided his Sans Souci home on the morning of December 14 last year.
He was asked by his barrister Mr Smith why he left multiple child abuse messages over several months.
“In the hope I could obtain cocaine,” Mr Finch said.
“It was during the lockdown period … when dealers weren’t driving on the road. And I saw an opportunity while desperate. I tried every dealer in my phone with no luck.”
He said he stopped using the service when he received a reply message from a man who offered to meet up with him to engage in the abuse of children.
“It made me sick, I was disgusted, I instantly told him he was a sick f*** and to f*** off. What I said in those messages was horrendous,” Finch said.
He described himself as being “disgusted” in himself and that it “made me feel sick” and that he wanted to “strangle” the other man involved in the message exchange.
“It’s something that I regret, it makes me sick now, that I contributed to that sort of response,” Finch told the court.
He said that at the height of his addiction, he would go on five-day benders and would take as many drugs as he could until he passed out or ran out of money
He said that since he had been charged, he had been abused in the street about half a dozen times and now avoided going out.
He said he had lost friends, had given up on working within the NRL and media and was on Centrelink.
He described the messages as “horrendous” and “disgraceful” as he detailed the toll it had wrought on his family.
“I’ve got no one else to blame but myself; it’s just me, I’m the one who did it, but it’s hurt so many other people,” Finch said.
The hearing continues.