The Offence of Possessing, Producing or Disseminating Bestiality or Animal Crush Material in NSW

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A “crush fetish” is a paraphyllia in which sexual arousal is associated with observing objects being crushed or being crushed oneself. 

A disturbing sub-variant of this fetish, known as “animal crush” involves sexual gratification derived from seeing the injurious or fatal crushing of animals, whether insects, worms, birds, reptiles or even mammals.

New South Wales has a range of laws which criminalise conduct relating to “animal crush material”. 

Here’s an outline of the laws that can apply.

Pornography depicting animal cruelty

Animal crush material is an example of extreme pornography, spawning a small but eager consumer base on both the “deep” and “surface” web for material.

Whether it’s legal to produce animal crush pornography often depends greatly on the laws applicable in each jurisdiction. 

US-based Jeff Vilencia was an early pioneer of crush pornography and focused his crush films on the squishing of invertebrates (worms, snails, crickets and grasshoppers) largely as they fell outside the scope of animal cruelty laws in his state.

Laws against animal cruelty in New South Wales similarly only apply to vertebrate species (such as reptiles, birds, fish and mammals) but not invertebrates (such as insects, spiders or worms). 

Disturbing animal crush videos involving vertebrates (including mammals) are commonly produced in countries with very lax animal cruelty legislation. 

In 2006, an animal crush video where a woman stomps a kitten to death with stiletto high-heels was the target of internet sleuths who identified the woman as a nurse in China. 

Although the woman lost her job, the production of the video was not illegal under the country’s animal cruelty laws.

Offences associated with animal crush material in New South Wales

Section 547E of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) makes it an offence to possess, produce or disseminate bestiality or animal crush material.

“Bestiality or animal crush material” is defined as material that:

  • Depicts or describes bestiality or an animal being crushed, burned, drowned, suffocated, impaled or otherwise killed or subjected to serious injury; and
  • Is material that a reasonable person would regard in all the circumstances as being intended or apparently intended to excite or gratify a sexual interest or excite or gratify a sadistic or other perverted interest in violence or cruelty.

“Animal” under the Act is limited to a mammal, a bird or a reptile and does not include insects, spiders or worms.

Section 547E(1) of the Act states that a person who produces or disseminates bestiality or animal crush material commits an offence which carries a maximum penalty of 5 years imprisonment.

A person will “produce” material if they:

  • Film, photograph, print or otherwise make bestiality or animal crush material, or 
  • Alter or manipulate an image for the purpose of making bestiality or animal crush material, or 
  • Enter into an agreement or arrangement to do so.

A person will “disseminate” material if they:

  • Send, supply, exhibit, transmit or communicate the material to another person, or 
  • Make the material available for access by another person, or 
  • Enter into an agreement or arrangement to do so.

Section 547E(2) of the Act also outlines an offence for the possession of bestiality or animal crush material, which carries a maximum penalty of 3 years imprisonment. Possession includes accessing material online.

Legal defences

There are a number of defences are outlined in the Act, including circumstances where:

  • The defendant did not know, and could not reasonably be expected to have known, that the material the defendant produced, disseminated or possessed was bestiality or animal crush material;
  • The defendant was, at the time of the offence, a law enforcement officer acting in the course of the defendant’s duties and the conduct of the defendant was reasonable in the circumstances for the purpose of performing the duty;
  • The material concerned was classified, whether before or after the commission of the alleged offence, under the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Act 1995 of the Commonwealth, other than as refused classification (RC).
  • The conduct engaged in by the defendant was necessary for or of assistance in conducting scientific, medical or educational research approved, authorised or otherwise permitted under a law of the State or of another State, a Territory or the Commonwealth,
  • For an offence involving possession of bestiality or animal crush material, but without limiting the defences above–the material came into the defendant’s possession unsolicited and the defendant, as soon as the defendant became aware of its nature, took reasonable steps to get rid of it.
  • The conduct was otherwise engaged for the “public benefit” including for purpose of enforcing, administering or monitoring compliance with the law or the administration of justice.
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Jarryd Bartle

Jarryd Bartle is an Associate Lecturer in Criminology and Justice Studies at RMIT University and a consultant for the Bridge of Hope Innocence Initiative, which investigates claims of wrongful conviction and advocates for systemic reform to protect against miscarriages of justice.

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