A farmer has been jailed for keeping her animals in "atrocious conditions" after scores of livestock carcasses were found strewn on her fields, write Gregory Kirby and Charlie Harman.

Tracy Middleton pleaded guilty to 19 separate charges including causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal and failing to provide adequate food and water.

The 51-year-old was jailed after the corpses of dozens of neglected cattle, sheep and lamb were found at the Little Oakhurst Brissenden farm in Bethersden, Kent.

District Judge Justin Barron said Middleton was responsible for a "long period of negligence" which caused a "high level of suffering" on the farm which held 135 cows and 150 sheep.

He jailed her for 120 days, the maximum sentence for her crimes, saying that there had been a "complete breakdown" in care of the animals on the 340-acre farm.

Sentencing at Margate Magistrates' Court on Thursday, February 13, the judge said: "I find the suffering was just so serious, only a sentence was appropriate. Not all the animals were well fed - one was starving and was in atrocious conditions."

"It's been a long period of negligence; the issues persisted until very recently. No one could look at those pictures and say your animals didn't experience a high level of suffering."

In addition to the jail term, Middleton was ordered to pay £8,500 in costs and banned from keeping any animals for ten years, excluding her pet dogs and cat.

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The same conditions were applied to ALNM Ltd, the company the farm is registered under.

On the disqualification, the judge added: "It was originally for cattle alone, but - with the exception of the cat and two dogs you currently own - I'm disqualifying you under the Animal Welfare Act from owning animals, participating in the keeping of animals or influencing how they are kept."

During the hearing, Middleton's defence lawyer said his client has "accepted her chaotic management of the farm".

Outside the court animal rights activists were clapping and crying at the sentencing which came after two years of their efforts to protect the farm's livestock.

Speaking after the result, a Kent Animal Defenders spokeswoman said: "Through the two year journey we have seen things that are never going to leave us. Awful states of animal suffering. It took two years but we finally got justice."

Kent Trading Standards led the investigations into the farm over a two-year period starting in 2018.

The authority found many dead and decomposing sheep carcasses, and later uncovered "numerous issues" with cattle identification.

Investigators said they found more dead sheep in early 2019 and "wider welfare offences" were identified which led to the charges against Middleton.

Commenting on the case, Kent Trading Standards Operations Manager Mark Norfolk, said: "We work hard with farmers across Kent to ensure they comply with animal health legislation. In this case our investigations revealed widespread and, sadly, repeated, issues."

It is believed that the remaining livestock will be relocated to another farm.