Disgraced former NRL star Brett Finch says he left vile child abuse messages in a desperate bid to get drugs but was now “disgusted” with himself, a court heard.
Finch, 41, is fighting to avoid being sent to prison after he used a gay sex chat to send lewd messages about young lads.
The former Parramatta and Melbourne champion midfielder denied the reports were “fantasy”, but rather said he was trying to kill drugs.
A former New South Wales state hero has suffered a dramatic fall from grace after pleading guilty to one count of using a transport service to post child abuse material.
According to the 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 teenage boys.
Many of the shocking reports are too naturalistic to publish.
Speaking at a sentencing hearing at Sydney District Court at the Downing Center on Monday, Finch denied having a sexual interest in children or ever having access to child abuse material online.
“Have you ever had a sexual interest in children?” his attorney, Mike Smith, asked Finch.
“Never,” replied Finch.
He described how, at the height of his addiction, he used 12 to 25 grams of cocaine a week and exercised five days a week.
He said he started using the FastMeet service because his dealer said it could be used to get drugs.
Finch also told the court that during one of his stints in rehab, he overheard gay men talking about how methamphetamine made them “hypersexual.”
He said he thought if he left a nasty message to other users, those who responded would be more likely to have drugs.
“In my mind, I thought if I got a response by leaving false messages, I would have a better chance of getting the drugs,” Finch said.
He was identified after NSW Police launched Strike Force Hank to investigate a group of people using the FastMeet service to share material about child abuse.
For three months, Finch sent other users voice messages with naturalistic descriptions of sexual acts he wanted to perform with teenagers and boys, some as young as 12, too naturalistic to publish.
“So how are you mate?” read one message he sent on November 6, 2020.
“My name is Brad, 35 years old, male build, married, 7 inch C*** cut.”
Finch was arrested when police raided his Sanssouci home on the morning of December 14 last year.
His barrister, Mr Smith, asked him why he had left multiple reports of child abuse over a period of months.
“Hopefully I can get some cocaine,” Mr Finch said.
“It was during the lockout period … when the dealers were off the road. And I saw opportunity in desperation. I have tried all the dealers in my phone but no luck.’
He said he stopped using the service when he received a response from a man who offered to meet him to deal with child abuse.
“I felt nauseous, I was disgusted, I immediately told him that he was sick as hell and to fuck him. What I said in those messages was appalling,” Finch said.
He described himself as “disgusted” with himself, that “I felt sick” and that he wanted to “choke” the other person involved in the messaging.
“I’m sorry, I feel sick now, that I caused this reaction,” Finch told the court.
At the height of his addiction, he said, he would go on five-day meds and take as many drugs as he could until he passed out or ran out of money
He said he had lost friends, given up his NRL and media jobs and was on Centrelink.
Prosecutor David Jordan suggested Finch was “fishing in a pond with a hook and no bait” trying to get drugs through sex chats.
When asked why he never mentioned drugs in any of his posts, Finch said he didn’t want to start a conversation with “do you have ice?”
He said he was trying to “woo” potential drug suppliers and planned to ask that in the next question
He denied the messages were “fantasy” 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 recommendation on his behalf
Mr Young described him as “very caring” and with leadership qualities.
The court heard that in the characterization, Mr Young described Finch as “a young man with a very strong background who made a mistake”.
The hearing will continue on Tuesday before Judge Philip Mahoney.
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