Brett Finch avoids jail time after child abuse conviction

Brett Finch, pictured here arriving at the Downing Centre Local Court in Sydney.
Brett Finch arrives at the Downing Centre Local Court in Sydney. (AAP Image/Bianca De Marchi)

Fallen NRL star Brett Finch has been spared going to jail after an attempt to buy drugs ended with him pleading guilty to child abuse charges. Judge Phillip Mahony sentenced Finch to two years imprisonment, suspending it with a $1000 surety and conditions in Sydney's Downing Centre District Court on Wednesday.

Mr Mahony accepted there were "exceptional circumstances" to his offending, which was the result of Finch's drug addiction and not motivated by a sexual interest in children. The two-year sentence is suspended under a recognisance release order.

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He will have to remain of good behaviour, continue treatment with a psychologist, and undertake rehab among other conditions. Finch pleaded guilty in August to one count of using a carriage service to transmit, publish or promote child abuse.

Brett Finch, pictured here arriving at the Downing Centre District Court.
Brett Finch arrives at the Downing Centre District Court. (AAP Image/Bianca De Marchi)

The 41-year-old said his only goal in leaving the messages on FastMeet - a telephone service for gay men - was to obtain cocaine, telling the court he was introduced to the service by drug dealer connections. Finch made the "twisted" comments about children, which cannot be published, because he thought it would draw a response from people who were on drugs or had access to them, he said.

He ceased using the service in January 2021, almost a year before he was arrested. When police came knocking in December 2021, Finch admitted to using the service and provided access to his devices, on which no child abuse material was found.

He agreed in court it was a terrible way to buy drugs and was ashamed of it. His offending was unsophisticated, using his own phone, and not part of a larger network, Mr Mahony said.

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His drug addiction came quickly after he first tried cocaine following the end of his NRL career in 2013, when he struggled to transition to a less structured post-football life. He felt his his whole life had revolved around rugby league.

Finch played three State of Origins for NSW and won a premiership with Melbourne Storm in 2009. His crowning moment came in the 2006 Origin opener when he kicked a match-winning field goal for the Blues. Post-football, Finch suffered mental health issues and spoke publicly about his battles with substance abuse.

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