When Brett Finch logged onto an internet chatroom in November 2020, he did not know interstate police were watching on as part of their hunt for a national child abuse material ring.
Victorian police had identified a convicted pedophile who was using the “FastMeet” service to exchange vile child abuse material.
As a result of their investigation, they identified other users and their identities were passed on to police in other states.
Over the course of three months, the fallen former NRL champion sent seven messages to fellow users in which he detailed fantasies of having sex with young boys.
Many of the messages are too vulgar to print and he later told police he was on drugs and “twisted” at the time.
As Finch marks his 41st birthday on Saturday, he is facing the prospect of being jailed after he this week pleaded guilty to one count of using a carriage service to make available child abuse material.
Later this year he will return to court, where his legal team will make submissions on his behalf before he is sentenced, having already flagged that his mental health was a factor in his offending.
But having experienced the highest of highs during a stellar NRL career, he is now facing the lowest of lows.
Finch (left) and Billy Slater with the NRL trophy in 2009. Finch (left) and Billy Slater with the NRL trophy in 2009.
Following his retirement from rugby league, Finch’s life has been plagued by struggles with drug use, addiction and mental health issues.
In October 2019, Finch entered a mental health facility after an incident on a flight from Sydney to the Gold Coast.
Concerns were raised when he was spotted with a bloody nose.
While passengers later told The Daily Telegraph that he not abusive, they described him as appearing paranoid and how he refused to get off the plane.
He had to be helped off and fire and ambulance crews were called.
He spoke openly about his struggles following his retirement in 2013 and being unable to recapture the highs of playing first-grade rugby league.
The Dally M halfback of the year in 2004, Finch played in two grand final losses for the Sydney Roosters in 2003 and 2004 before winning a grand final with a star-studded Melbourne team in 2009.
Though that title was struck from the record books as a result of the Storm’s salary cap cheating