Former NRL player Brett Finch is among eight men in NSW accused of being involved in a telephone chat line where they allegedly discussed sexually abusing children and swapped material depicting abuse.
Mr Finch is understood to be the 40-year-old man arrested on Tuesday at a Sans Souci home in Sydney’s south, where police also seized a mobile phone.
He was charged with five counts of using a carriage service to transmit or publish or promote child abuse and was granted conditional bail to face Sutherland Local Court next month.
His arrest came after seven men, aged between 34 and 71, were charged following raids at properties in Surry Hills, Stanmore, Petersham, Cranebrook, Gerroa, Shoal Bay and Coffs Harbour over the past month.
Investigators from the child exploitation internet unit established Strike Force Hank earlier this year after learning of a telephone chat service a number of men had been using to allegedly discuss sexually abusing children and distribute child abuse material.
Finch played three State of Origins for NSW in an NRL career that also included three grand finals.
He won a premiership with Melbourne in 2009, while his crowning moment came in the 2006 Origin opener when he kicked a match-winning field goal for the Blues.
However, his post-football life has been dogged by mental health issues and time in rehab, admitting to drug use and his battles with addiction.
Just last week the 40-year-old made headlines when he revealed his past battles in a time after he had been stood down by the Nine Network and called in sick to a radio job to buy drugs, before being caught by his family.
“I get home, now I’m stood down from both jobs, and I go to my account and I’ve got minus $10. Eighteen months earlier, I had hundreds of thousands,” Finch told the Bloke in a Bar podcast.
“And my first thought is, where can I pick up, where can I get another one from?
“It’s taken everything from me but my thought is, I still f***ing want another one. It’s ridiculous, I’ve just lost everything.
“I sat there and, not that I’ve ever contemplated suicide, but I sat there and went, mate, this is not living, this is existing.
“I don’t have a dollar to my name, I’ve got no job, my missus has left. This is not living.”