The owner of a dog which broke into a sheep farm has been fined more than £4,000 after dozens of ewes and lambs died of shock.

Helen Rowena Maunder, 54, pleaded guilty at Weymouth Magistrates Court to being the owner of a dog worrying livestock.

The court heard how the incident left a scene of "mess and devastation" on land at the Eastbury Farm House estate in Tarrant Gunville.

A statement from a farmer at the estate, read to the court by prosecutor Elizabeth Valera, said on arriving at 6.45am on March 5 he found the sheep "in a tight bunch" and a dog nearby "covered in mud."

"I got out of my car and approached the dog which showed me its looked exhausted, I believe it had been out all night."

Police were called to the scene and held the dog while the farmer inspected the livestock.

The statement continued: "There was a lot of mess and devastation.

"Ewes were between the fences. There were dead lambs and aborted lambs in various areas of the land. Evidence showed lambs had been born in shock.

"The true effect on the flock couldn't be fully seen until around five days later as the sheep continued to abort their lambs."

The farmer said that areas of the electric fencing around the field had also been destroyed.

Magistrates heard 29 dead lambs and eight dead ewes were reported in total. The cost to the estate was estimated to be around £8,500, with £4,500 of the amount reportedly lost through the dead livestock.

£1,000 was paid to bring in extra staff, the fence was repaired at a cost of £670 and further money was spent on trying to save other livestock, the farmer said.

Maunder, who appeared unrepresented in court, said her dog managed to get off its lead and climb over the garden fence.

"The fence was high but not high enough," Maunder told the bench. "My dog can be scared of strangers but is usually placid."

Maunder, of Bailey Cottages, Tarrant Gunville, said she works as a sales assistant and "couldn't afford" to pay the amount requested by the estate as she claims Universal Credit benefits while living with her adult sons at home.

Magistrates ordered Maunder to pay £4,500 in compensation, as well as fines and costs totalling £253.