Toronto: A Canadian landscaper on Tuesday pleaded guilty to the premeditated murders of eight men with links to Toronto's gay community and the mutilation of their bodies, most of them chopped up and hidden in planters.

The plea entered by Bruce McArthur, 67, was a surprise - he had been scheduled to stand trial next year.

He now faces the likelihood of life in prison. A sentencing hearing is scheduled to start on February 4.

"Bruce McArthur has pled guilty," Homicide Detective David Dickinson told reporters outside the courtroom. "It's the right outcome."

"Unfortunately, we can never bring these men back. But I'm hoping we can start bringing closure to the families and the communities," he said, describing the "long and traumatic process" to bring McArthur to justice.

McArthur was arrested in January 2018.

Body parts of seven of the victims were found hidden inside large planters that McArthur stored at a client's home in midtown Toronto.

The remains of an eighth victim were later discovered in a ravine behind the property.

The victims in the case were McArthur's former lover, two Afghan immigrants, two refugees from Sri Lanka and another from Iran, a Turkish national, and a homeless sex worker.

All went missing from 2010 to 2017.