By Tiffanie Turnbull for BBC News, Sydney
A renowned British crocodile expert has admitted to 60 charges referring to bestiality and child abuse material.
An Australian court heard Adam Britton filmed himself torturing dozens of dogs until just about all died.
He would then post videos of the incidents online, where he also accessed child abuse material.
A number one zoologist who has worked on BBC and National Geographic productions, Britton can be sentenced at a later date.
At a hearing within the Northern Territory (NT) Supreme Court on Monday, prosecutors laid out the case against him.
Much of the small print of Britton’s crimes are too graphic to publish, and so “grotesque” the judge warned people to depart the courtroom.
Chief Justice Michael Grant said he was concerned hearing the facts of the case could cause “nervous shock”, before taking the rare step of excusing security officers and junior court officials, local media reported.
Britton had a “sadistic sexual interest” in animals since a minimum of 2014, prosecutors told the court, and together with exploiting his own pets, he had manipulated other dog owners into giving him theirs.
He would use the web marketplace platform Gumtree Australia to seek out individuals who were often reluctantly giving their pets away because of travel or work commitments, constructing a “rapport” with them to barter taking custody of the animals. In the event that they reached out to Britton for updates on their old pets, he would tell them “false narratives” and send them old photos.
In point of fact, he was abusing the animals in a shipping container on his property that had been fitted out with recording equipment – which the court heard he called a “torture room” – before sharing footage of his crimes online under pseudonyms.
Such a video was eventually passed on to NT police who arrested Britton in April 2022.
Of the 42 dogs he abused within the 18 months leading as much as his arrest, 39 died.
Britton has been remanded in custody since his arrest and can return to court for a sentencing hearing in December.
Born in West Yorkshire, Britton grew up within the UK before moving to Australia over 20 years ago to work with crocodiles.
With a PhD in zoology, the 51-year-old had built a worldwide status for his expertise, holding an instructional position at Charles Darwin University, and even hosting David Attenborough while the veteran broadcaster filmed a part of the Life in Cold Blood docuseries on his property.