A COUPLE responsible for causing suffering to hundreds of animals on a farm in Olveston have been founding guilty of almost 60 charges of animal cruelty.

RSPCA inspectors uncovered sheep, pigs, cows, goats and horses struggling for survival as they clambered over piles of dead bodies, with some trapped waist-deep in faeces when they visited Ingst Manor Farm in March 2015 after concerns were raised.

Mark Downes, 50, of New Passage, Pilning, and Susan Smith, 60, of Ingst Manor Farm in Olveston, were found guilty of a series of charges related to the treatment of animals at the farm dating as far back as 2013.

The charges ranged from causing unnecessary suffering to hundreds of animals to failing to dispose of carcasses.

During visits to the farm, officers saw thin horses walking through thick, deep mud that was up to their knees in some places, surrounded by scrap metal, barbed wire, broken fencing and a bonfire containing animal bones.

A decomposing horse was found wrapped in plastic, with another dead horse discovered attached to the rear of a vehicle with rope tied around their neck.

A muddy barn filled with sick and starving sheep, cows and pigs was found to also contain piles of dead animals, with lambs and calves standing next to what are thought to be their dead mothers.

Vets and police officers joined the RSPCA on numerous visits to the farm between March 2015 and August 2015.

Inspectors returned in April 2016 with a veterinary surgeon and animal health enforcement officer from South Gloucestershire Council.

Numerous pigs were found in the top area of a field, consuming a deceased sheep, with other live pigs seen eating a deceased pig in a pig pen. There were also piles of carcasses throughout the barn amongst the live sheep and dogs kept in small, faeces-filled cages without food or water.

RSPCA inspector Miranda Albinson, who helped investigate, said: “The conditions at the farm were appalling. What we were confronted with will stick in the minds of all those who helped rescue those animals.

“It was heartbreaking to see so many animals struggling for survival.”

In total, the couple were found guilty on 38 of the 42 charges bought by the RSPCA for welfare offences and of 19 of the 21 charges brought forward by South Gloucestershire Council for not following animal control regulations or keeping the records they should have done.

In mitigation, the court heard that Smith claimed to have been bed-bound with pneumonia for a number of weeks in February 2015 and had left the farm in the care of Downs who was said to be struggling in difficult conditions.

Smith and her former partner were banned in 2002 from keeping horses after pleading guilty to unnecessary suffering.

The pair were remanded on bail with sentencing taking place on Thursday, June 21 at Bristol Magistrates’ Court.

A South Gloucestershire Council spokeswoman said they were pleased to see the case finally come to a conclusion.

A third defendant, Susan Smith’s 21-year-old daughter, Georgina Blizzard-Smith, also of Ingst Manor Farm, was also found guilty of two charges of breaching animal welfare, failing to take steps to ensure the needs of two dogs, Angel a golden Labrador, and Savannah, a Border Collie, and causing unnecessary suffering to the collie.

Blizzard-Smith was ordered to pay a compensation order of £306 and costs of £500 and was deprived of ownership of the two dogs.