WARNING: Graphic content
A respected academic and zoologist appeared to be living an idyllic life on a rural property – before his secret and sickening obsession with raping and torturing pet dogs was revealed.
Adam Robert Corden Britton, 52, pleaded guilty in the Darwin Supreme Court on Monday to 37 counts of animal cruelty, 10 counts of rape or attempted rape of a dog and four counts of charge of possession or transmission of child pornography.
He confessed to killing at least 39 dogs he called “fucking toys,” filming the abuse of puppies on his sprawling McMinns Lagoon property and sharing his depraved interests under pseudonyms online.
The court also heard he sexually abused his own Swiss shepherds, Ursa and Bolt, for almost a decade, until he eventually went to Gumtree to find more dogs to kill.
However, until his arrest, Britton managed to keep his disturbing fantasies a secret, including from his wife.
In a message read to the court, Britton told a stranger about his urges on Telegram: “I had suppressed it. Over the last few years I’ve been slacking on it and now I can’t stop. I do not want.
Only two years ago he was an esteemed researcher at Charles Darwin University and had gained international recognition for his work as a crocodile conservationist with his wife and business partner, Erin.
Adam Britton is pictured with his wife, Erin. They had been married for at least 15 years
Around six months before his arrest in April 2022, the couple – married for more than 15 years – were interviewed about their research on ABC News and Triple J’s Hack show.
During a Covid lockdown in 2020, the couple filmed themselves feeding a freshwater crocodile called Njall on their property before posting it on Facebook.
In the video, Britton faced the camera and said, “Hello everyone, Adam here. Well, we’re at home right now and we have to feed the crocodiles.
“So what I’m going to do is hand this camera to Erin – say ‘hi,’ Erin.”
Ms Britton smiled into the camera and said excitedly: “Hey everyone,” before picking up the camera and filming her husband feeding chicken legs to Njall with a large pair of tongs.
There is no indication that Ms. Britton, a biologist and park ranger who participated in a series of projects on sea turtles and counting crocodiles, knew anything about her husband’s crimes or obsessions, and she appears to have abandoned his last name.
The National Geographic website suggests she will be participating in international wildlife expeditions over the next six months, and there is no mention in her biography of her husband and former business partner.
Adam Britton (pictured) told a stranger on Telegram that he had stopped trying to suppress his violent impulses
Britton was a crocodile expert who started a consulting company with his wife
Adam Britton (centre) with his wife Erin (left) and David Attenborough (right) during the filming of a BBC documentary
Britton grew up in England and received his Ph.D. in zoology at the University of Bristol before moving to Australia after 1996 to pursue his fascination with crocodiles.
He met his future wife and they started a consulting company, Big Gecko, which sold images of crocodiles to television and film directors. They have worked on natural history programs with the BBC and National Geographic.
Their saltwater crocodile, Smaug, became a celebrity in his field and appeared in two horror films.
Britton was a shameless self-promoter and often updated his social media profiles with photos of his crocodiles, properties and newspaper clippings.
Although he managed to hide his unhealthy fantasies, one of the most disturbing posts on his public Facebook page was a post celebrating his Swiss Shepherd Bolt’s first birthday in 2016.
The post included a photo of Bolt as a puppy in 2015. The court heard Monday that Britton began sexually abusing his own dogs in 2014.
Many of his crimes against animals were so graphic and disturbing that the Daily Mail Australia chose not to publish them.
In 2016, Britton uploaded a photo of one of her dogs, Bolt, as a puppy (pictured).
The court heard Britton began abusing his dogs, Ursa and Bolt (pictured), in 2014.
Prosecutors told the court Monday that he had a Telegram account that was used to engage with “like-minded people” and another that was used to distribute images and recordings of the abuse.
“Using these apps, the offender discussed his ‘victim count,’” said prosecutor Marty Aust.
His account contained 114 threads in which he described how he acquired the pets and how he abused them.
Britton sourced other dogs on Gumtree from unsuspecting owners in the Darwin area.
The court heard he built relationships with owners and negotiated custody of their pets, many of whom had reluctantly given them up due to travel or work commitments.
In one scenario, Britton sent a message to the owners of a large brown dog to reassure them that the animal was “settling in well.”
“Wolfe was relaxed, eating well and enjoying her new home,” the post read.
The prosecutor told the court they had already been “sexually exploited, tortured and killed”.
Last year, police seized 44 items, including computers, cell phones, cameras, external hard drives, tools and weapons, during a search of his home.
They also found 15 files of child sexual abuse material on his laptop.
After pleading guilty to all charges on Monday, Chief Justice Michael Grant warned the gallery of the incriminating facts in detail “acts that could only be described as grotesque cruelty that are both confronting and distressing.”
“Which, in my opinion, is likely to cause nervous shock or other adverse psychological reaction in a person exposed to these details,” he said.
Britton was indicted last year, but his name was suppressed by the courts to ensure media attention would not bias a jury against him.
The order was lifted after he pleaded guilty on Monday.
His case is scheduled to return to court on Dec. 13 for sentencing submissions.