An animal sanctuary boss wept in court on Wednesday as she was banned from keeping the horses, cats, dogs and birds she loved.

Sara Ross, 64, whose sanctuary at Lake End Road, Dorney was raided by the RSPCA on May 31 last year, had pleaded guilty to six charges of failing to meet the needs of the animals and birds in her care.

District judge Sophie Toms told her: “Something went very badly wrong. I accept you had no intention of mistreating any animals.

“In your mind you were doing your best but your best was not good enough.”

RSPCA experts had reported horses lying or standing in their own urine or faeces on boggy paddocks that did not have enough grass. They criticised a lack of food and the presence of flies and vermin - with rats running in and out of the animals’ cages.

They also reported that cages in the parrot house were too small and that one parrot, some dogs and some cats had needed urgent medical attention.

Nigel Weller, representing Mrs Ross, said she had been the victim of a hate campaign.

He said: “Some of them are in court. They have ‘trolled’ my client over the internet running down everything she does.

“They bombarded Windsor and Maidenhead Council with thousands of complaints.”

The council subsequently withdrew from a deal to help her move to a better site in Bell Lane, Eton Wick.

Mr Weller said Mrs Ross had suffered a serious accident four months before the raid when a horse had trampled her, injuring her foot so badly that she needed four operations and had been unable to attend to the sanctuary as she would have liked to.

He said: “She has been devoted to her sanctuary since 2012. She sold her house in 2005 to devote her assets and money to looking after animals. For 38 years she has been involved in sanctuary work.”

Judge Toms said that the problems on the site clearly dated back to before Mrs Ross’ accident.

She disqualified Mrs Ross from keeping animals for five years and issued a deprivation order preventing her dogs being returned to her.

She was also ordered to do 135 hours unpaid work and pay £750 costs.

*Yesterday sanctuary trustee Diana Coad said that an appeal had been launched - and that she understood Mrs Ross’ disqualification would be suspended until it was heard.

She said: “It is important to remember none of the charges alleged cruelty. It was all about the environment.”