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Brett Finch given two-year sentence for sharing ‘depraved’ child abuse fantasies

Brett Finch given twoyear sentence for sharing depraved child abuse fantasies
Finch engaged in seven online chats between November 2020 and January 2021, in which he expressed sexual fantasies involving boys aged between 12 and 17.
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Former NRL star Brett Finch has been sentenced to two years’ imprisonment, which will be served in the community, for expressing “depraved” child abuse fantasies about teenage boys on an online messaging platform in a futile attempt to seek drugs.

Finch, 41, was arrested last year after police began investigating the activities of a convicted child sex offender and examined a series of online chats the offender had with Finch and others.

Brett Finch arrives at court on Wednesday with lawyer Paul McGirr.

Brett Finch arrives at court on Wednesday with lawyer Paul McGirr.Credit:Nikki Short

Finch engaged in seven chats on the platform between November 2020 and January 2021, in which he repeatedly expressed fantasies of wanting to have sexual experiences with boys aged between 12 and 17.

He told the NSW District Court he does not have a sexual interest in children and only began using the platform to seek out drugs after his dealer was arrested. At the time, he said, he was addicted to cocaine and was using between 12 and 25 grams per week.

“I would’ve been on a drug-fuelled bender,” Finch said.

He said he believed sending “twisted” messages on the platform would put him in contact with recipients who were on drugs, meaning he would be more likely to receive drugs. He acknowledged that he did not actually ask for drugs in any of the messages.

Judge Phillip Mahony said on Wednesday that Finch’s plan was “plainly absurd” and had no hope of success, but accepted that Finch’s motivation was a desire for drugs.

Mahony sentenced Finch to two years in jail, imposing a recognisance release order which meant Finch was immediately released to serve his sentence in the community. Under the terms of the order, Finch must pay $1000, be of good behaviour for two years, and continue receiving treatment including being tested for illicit drugs.

The judge emphasised that the sentence is a jail sentence served in the community, and if any of the conditions are breached Finch may have to serve the rest of the sentence in custody.

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He said Finch could be targeted by vigilantes in custody, due to media reporting which could lead people to incorrectly conclude he is a paedophile.

Mahony said Finch’s “morally reprehensible” offending was unsophisticated and did not involve actual children, with the messages sent between midnight and 7am while the former footballer was on a “drug-fuelled binge on cocaine”.

He said the messages sent by Finch were graphic, “highly depraved and sexualised” and constituted child abuse material. He said he would not disseminate the comments further by mentioning them in his sentencing remarks.

The judge said Finch now acknowledges that his words contributed to the child abuse market and may have contributed to a person offending against children.

Finch told a psychologist he had a “wake-up call” or “epiphany” to stop using the chat service when someone offered him an opportunity to abuse two young girls. Finch said he realised he was dealing with a “sick f---” and told them to “f--- off”.

In a report to the court, a psychologist said Finch’s “frankly disgusting remarks appear to have been a fantasy” in the context of the footballer’s post-concussive syndrome and heavy dependence on cocaine.

The psychologist said Finch appears to be genuinely remorseful for his behaviour and the likelihood of him committing further offences is remote.

When Finch was arrested at his Sydney home in December 2021, he told police he had never engaged in sexual activity with children. He said he had been on drugs at the time and described his online activity as “shit talk”.

Over his NRL career, Finch was a halfback for the Canberra Raiders, Sydney Roosters, Parramatta Eels, and Melbourne Storm, playing a total of 270 games. He won a premiership with Melbourne in 2009 and played three State of Origins for NSW, sealing a win for the Blues with a field goal in 2006.

Finch struggled after retiring from football in 2013 and became addicted to cocaine “almost immediately” after trying it on an overseas holiday, he told the psychologist.

The court heard Finch is now on Centrelink benefits, is reluctant to leave his home, and has made more than 300 applications for employment and not received a single response.

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