Former NRL star Brett Finch has been sentenced to two years in prison, to be served in the community, for having “depraved” online conversations in which he expressed fantasies of child abuse involving teenagers.
Finch, 41, was arrested last year after police began investigating the activities of a convicted child sex offender and examined a series of chats the offender had with Finch and others on an online messaging platform.
Finch participated 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 children between the ages of 12 and 17.
He told the NSW District Court that he has no sexual interest in children and only started using the platform to search for drugs after his dealer was arrested. At the time, he said, he was addicted to cocaine, consuming between 12 and 25 grams per week.
“I would have been on a drug-fuelled binge,” Finch said.
He said he believed sending “twisted” messages on the platform would put him in contact with recipients who were high, meaning he would be more likely to receive drugs. He acknowledged that he did not actually ask for drugs in any of the messages.
On Wednesday, Judge Phillip Mahony said Finch’s plan was “simply 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 prison, issuing a release on recognizance order, meaning Finch will be released immediately and serve his sentence in the community. Under the terms of the order, Finch must pay $1,000, be on good behavior for two years and continue to receive treatment, including being tested for illicit drugs.
The judge said Finch’s “morally reprehensible” offense was unsophisticated and did not involve actual children, with the messages sent between midnight and 7 a.m. while the former footballer was at a “drug-fueled cocaine party”.