James Selby: Depraved former rugby exec jailed over vile child abuse material

A depraved former Australian rugby union executive, who paid for vile child abuse material during a seven-year string of offending, has been jailed for at least two years.

James Selby, 43, hung his head as he sat in the dock of Sydney’s Downing Centre District Court on Thursday before being led away to begin his prison sentence.

The court heard that from May 2014 until his Sydney home was raided by the Australian Federal Police in September 2021, Selby used chat rooms, gay dating apps and encrypted messaging services to exchange horrific videos and engage in sickening discussions centering on the exploitation and sexual abuse of young children.

He pleaded guilty to a string of nine charges, including two counts of using a carriage service to transmit, publish or promote child abuse material, possessing/controlling child abuse material and using a carriage service to access child abuse material.

In sentencing Selby on Thursday, Judge Phillip Mahony told the court Selby had in some exchanges expressed “delight” in the idea of small children being subjected to abuse and pain.

He also rejected Selby’s claim that he did not have a sexual interest in children and had engaged in the supply and exchange of the sick material in an attempt to please other people.

Selby worked as the general manager of community rugby at Rugby Australia before being sacked following his 2021 arrest.

According to his LinkedIn profile, Selby worked in sports administration roles for over 20 years, including with Football Federation Australia, the Australian Sports Commission and Athletics Australia.

At the time of his arrest, he was an executive at Rugby Australia and on the board of Oceania Rugby.

He was arrested as part of Operation Arkstone, the AFP strike force set up to investigate alleged child abuse material rings.

The court heard that one of the sequences involved Selby sending another person $175 in exchange for the user to take a photograph exposing his penis in front of a sleeping 13-year-old boy.

Police found a video which depicted the highly depraved and violent sexual assault and attempted sexual assault of children aged between two and four.

He also used internet chat rooms to discuss the sexual abuse of young children and asked another user to recount his experience of being raped as a child.

Judge Mahony said that Selby’s offences involved the “pernicious exploitation of the most vulnerable members of the community that feeds the worldwide market”.

He further stated that the material that he received and shared involved “brutality and degradation” of extremely young people, describing his actions as “morally reprehensible”.

Judge Mahony rejected Selby’s argument that he did not have a sexual interest in young children, but took into account his early guilty plea.

The court heard that Selby had reported alcohol and drug abuse issues, including taking amyl nitrate daily, as well as having mental health conditions including anxiety and depression.

Standing in the dock in a checked shirt and jeans, Selby did not react as he was sentenced to four years in prison, with a two-year non-parole period.

He will be eligible for release in October 2024.

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