AN ANIMAL sanctuary founder whose premises in Lake End Road, Dorney were raided by the RSPCA has had a ban on her keeping animals reduced.

Sara Ross, 54, was initially banned from keeping or owning animals for five years at Reading Magistrates’ Court on June 27, having pleaded guilty to six charges of the mistreatment of animals.

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 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.

Mrs Ross' defence counsel said she had suffered a serious accident four months before the raid and had been unable to attend to the sanctuary as she would have liked to. He said she had devoted 38 years of her life to looking after animals but had been the subject of a hate campaign in recent times that had seen her enemies flood the borough council with complaints about her.

Mrs Ross appealed her sentence and at Reading Crown Court on December 13 her ban was reduced from five years to 12 months.

The unpaid work requirement of 120 hours and costs of £750 which were originally imposed in June will remain.