Former NRL star blames addiction for vile child abuse messages

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WARNING: Graphic.

Disgraced former NRL star Brett Finch says he left vile child abuse messages in a desperate attempt to obtain drugs but was now “disgusted” with himself, a court has heard.

Finch, 41, is fighting to avoid being sent to jail after he used a gay sex chat service to send sick messages about young boys.

The former Parramatta and Melbourne champion halfback denied the messages were “fantasies” but rather said he was attempting to score drugs.

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, between November 2020 and January 2021 Finch 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.

Embattled former NRL star Brett Finch is fighting to avoid being sent to jail. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Damian ShawSource: News Corp Australia

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 a week 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 sick 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.

Brett Finch during his playing days.Source: News Limited

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.”

Brett Finch says he left the child abuse messages in an attempt to score drugs. Picture: NewsWire / Monique HarmerSource: News Corp Australia

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 he had lost friends, had given up on working within the NRL and media and was on Centrelink.

Brett Finch said his drug addiction started following his retirement from football. Photo: Scott Barbour/Getty Images.Source: Getty Images

Crown prosecutor David Jordan suggested to Finch that he was “fishing in a pond with a hook and no bait” when trying to obtain drugs through a sex chat service.

Asked why he never mentioned drugs in any of his messages, Finch said he didn’t want to open the conversation with “do you have any ice?”

He said he was trying to “lure” in potential drug suppliers and was planning on asking it in a follow up question

He denied the messages were “fantasies” and struggled to read them today.

He was supported in court by his family and friends, including Dragons chairman Craig Young, who gave a character reference on his behalf

Mr Young described him as “very caring” and with leadership qualities.

The court heard that in a character reference Mr Young had described Finch as a “highly decent young man who has made a mistake”.

The hearing will continue before Judge Phillip Mahony on Tuesday.

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