A WOMAN who kept horses in filthy conditions where animals starved to death has been found guilty of causing unnecessary suffering.

Annette Nally, who denied four charges in an RSPCA prosecution, was told by the judge she had offered no defence and had wasted a court's time.

Members of the public in the hearing at Redditch Magistrates Court, cried as a judge gave his damning assessment of how Nally, aged 50, of Pryor Road, Oldbury, kept horses at a yard in Stoke Prior, where water troughs were found empty and there was no food provided for the horses.

As he passed a guilty verdict on all charges, District Judge Ian Strongman described how a mare called Ruby and her foal Rebecca were found in a barn by concerned members of the public.

He said: "The floor was made up of urine and faeces, it was a filthy stinking mess.

"In the stable next door a stallion Rocky, who a year before was a fine stallion in prime condition, was in the same situation, skin and bone, living in absolute filth."

The court was told Ruby, who was starving to death, was put down 24 hours after being found at Stoke Prior and Rebecca had survived because she had still been feeding from her mother.

The charges, three of causing unnecessary suffering and one of failure to ensure welfare, related to eight horses found at Stoke Prior on July 14 last year and others at another yard run by Nally in Solihull.

The shocking evidence included post mortem reports showing animals starved to death, in one case string was found in a gelding's small intestine which the judge concluded may have been eaten in desperation.

The animal was found dead in a barn at Stoke Prior and the court heard marks in filth on the floor by its head indicated it had thrashed as it struggled to get to its feet during its final hours.

The judge told Nally: "You saw animals deteriorating in front of you and did nothing to stop it."

In her defence Nally claimed hot weather last summer meant grass did not to grow and caused a lack of food for the horses.

She blaimed the weather and a mystery illness

She also claimed three horses had been affected by toxic waste on land where they had previously been kept by another owner.

The judge however dismissed her story as "entirely bogus and untrue".

He said: "She has wasted the court's time for the last few days, there is no defence at all. I have never come across a case with less merit."

Nally was experienced horsewoman and took in neglected and unwanted horses on behalf of the RSPCA and the Retraining of Racehorses (RoR) charity.

She showed no emotion as the judge delivered his verdict, he said: "She had an extraordinary reputation for caring for horses and members of the public and the RoR put horses with her in good faith.

"This is a significant breach of trust and an aggravating feature."

Speaking after the verdict, Julie Smith, one of the members of the public who found the horses, said: "To say overjoyed would be an understatement. It's what we have worked for for over a year now - to get her into court.

"Every single animal was in a poor condition, it was death row. Death was the next thing, you couldn't get any lower than what they were."

She also described the effect of the grim discovery on the people who uncovered the horses at Stoke Prior.

Julie Smith said: "Every single person who saw those horses on that day or has been involved since has been affected. None of us has slept this last few days just waiting."

Nally will be sentenced tomorrow (Friday) and the judge told her all options were open including jail.