Ex-Wigan Warriors man spared jail after being convicted of sharing 'highly depraved' child abuse content

Former Wigan Warriors man Brett Finch has narrowly escaped jail after being convicted of sharing 'highly depraved' and 'morally reprehensible' child abuse material.

The 41-year-old had pleaded guilty to one count of using a carriage service to make available child abuse material via a sex hotline.

Six other charges of using a carriage service to transmit, publish or promote child abuse had been withdrawn.

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Judge Phillip Mahony sentenced Finch to a $1,000 two-year good behaviour bond in Sydney's Downing Centre District Court.

Brett Finch in action for Wigan

The maximum penalty for the offence is 15 years behind bars, and the Crown had pushed for a custodial sentence.

Judge Mahony accepted Finch had been motivated by a desperate and 'patently absurd' attempt to source drugs rather than him having any sexual interest in children.

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“I accept he is genuinely remorseful for his offending conduct,” said the judge, who had been 'generally impressed' by Finch's evidence.

Psychologist Chris Lennings told the court: "In my assessment, he does not present as having a sexual deviance."

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Finch acknowledged: “I understand why no one wants to come near me.

"I've got no one else to blame but myself... it's hurt so many other people and that's what I'm sorry for."

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Defence barrister Mike Smith said: "He is not a paedophile and is not motivated by sexual attraction to children."

The verdict was slammed as ‘pathetic’ by Australian child sexual abuse survivor Grace Tame.

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“This pathetic verdict is a shame on our nation,” she wrote on Instagram.

“It’s just s**t talk to dehumanise and objectify an underage member of your own species.

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“Narrative is THE instrument of coercive control. Far out. Have we learned nothing?

“Whether his version of events is true or not, it doesn’t change the outcome of his actions.

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“It does not change the fact that he produced child exploitation material.

“It does not change the fact that he engaged with convicted paedophiles thereby aiding and enabling the cycle of abuse culture.”

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Finch, who represented New South Wales three times, played for Wigan between 2011-12, scoring 18 tries in 60 appearances.

He also played for Canberra, Sydney, Parramatta and Melbourne.