Disgraced ex-NRL star Brett Finch has avoided jail after sending a series of vile child abuse messages via a sex chat service.
The former premiership-winning halfback, State of Origin star and broadcaster has suffered a shocking fall from grace and on Wednesday learned his fate when he was sentenced in Sydney’s Downing Centre District Court by Judge Phillip Mahony.
Finch, 41, admitted to sending a series of sexually-charged messages about young boys in a gay sex chat service but blamed his offending on his drug addiction.
He pleaded guilty to one count of using a carriage service to make available child abuse material after he was arrested in his Sans Souci home in December last year following a 13-month police investigation.
On Wednesday he was handed down a two-year sentence to be served in the community.
According to a statement of agreed facts, between November 2020 and January 2021, Finch used the FastMeet service to leave a message for other men about wanting to have sex with teens and young boys.
He left seven voice messages on the service on six occasions, during each one providing a description of himself before expressing his desire to engage in sexual acts with young boys aged between 12 and 16.
The voice messages left by Finch are too vulgar to print.
At the time, Victorian police were monitoring the service as they pursued a convicted child sex offender.
Finch told the court that he had struggled with drug addiction since his retirement and at one point was using up to 25 grams of cocaine per week.
He said he was told by a drug supplier that he could use FastMeet — a male gay chat service — to source drugs.
Furthermore, he claimed that during one of his three stints in rehab, he heard men talk in group therapy about methamphetamine making them “hypersexual”.
Finch explained that in his mind if he left a “twisted” message, those that responded would likely be high and would be able to help him score drugs.
However, he claimed he left the last of his six messages in January after a user responded inviting him to meet up and engage in the abuse of children.
He said it then dawned on him the results of his actions and he told the other man he was a “sick f***”.
“When I was leaving these messages, I had the blinkers on, my only goal was to source drugs,” Finch told the court earlier this year.
By Finch’s own admission, the messages were “sick” and he was “disgusted” in himself, vehemently denying he had an interest in children.
Finch also denied the messages were fantasies, but rather a desperate attempt to score drugs.
Police did not find any child abuse videos or images on his devices, the court has heard.
When he was arrested, he also volunteered his phone and computer to officers.
He spoke openly about his struggles following his retirement in 2013 and being unable to recapture the highs of playing first-grade rugby league.
Finch played in two grand final losses for the Sydney Roosters in 2003 and 2004, before winning a grand final with a star-studded Melbourne team in 2009.
His crowning moment came in 2006 when, after being called into camp at the 11th hour, kicked the winning field goal for NSW in State of Origin game one.
He played 270 NRL games across stints at Canberra, the Roosters, Parramatta and Melbourne, as well as playing 60 games in the English Super League.
In retirement, he took up a career as a commentator with Fox Sports, 2GB and Channel 9, but departed all of them amid his personal problems.
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