A sheep farmer neglected her animals and left dead sheep littered across fields, a court heard.

Karen Louise Harper, 51, was sentenced at Weymouth Magistrates Court yesterday after pleading guilty to nine offences, including causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal.

Magistrates heard that Harper did not follow advice from vets on how to care for the animals, failed to dispose of sheep carcasses without undue delay and failed to apply the required tags to the sheep which she kept at land near Affpuddle.

Prosecutor Neil Martin told the court that when a trading standards officer visited in December 2018, they found 25 sheep carcasses in the fields, and that many of the 75 remaining sheep were thin and had little grass to eat.

After veterinary examination, 54 of the sheep were unacceptably thin and one had to be put down. He also noted that 43 of the 75 sheep were not tagged.

Harper, of The Close, Charlton Marshall, had previously been given a formal caution by the trading standards in 2017.

When asked by the court to give further details of her personal situation, Harper said: "Last year I was moved to a different department of work. I was bullied. It knocked my confidence completely. It just started going through the menopause.

"I know it is a weak excuse, but I am now on antidepressants. It is no excuse, I appreciate that."

She also noted that she has a mortgage and school fees to pay, and said that when she had tried to get the tags, the supplier was out of stock.

Michael Davis, chairman of the bench, said that there is a responsibility placed on people who care for animals, and that Harper had failed in that responsibility.

He also said that if such an offence were to happen again, a court would have no hesitation banning her from caring for animals.

Harper was handed a high level community order and was ordered to undertake 180 hours of unpaid work, as well as paying £2278 prosecution costs and a victim surcharge of £85.

Councillor Anthony Alford, spokesman for customer, community and regulatory services at Dorset Council said: "Our Trading Standards team work with farmers and other livestock keepers to improve the welfare of their animals but where advice is ignored formal action is considered.

"All livestock keepers have a clear responsibility to ensure conditions they keep animals in and the care they are given is adequate and does not cause unnecessary suffering."