A  West Devon couple who left their horses in a pitiful state of neglect have been given suspended jail terms and animal bans.

Animal rescuers found a large number of horses in poor conditions – and a stallion had to be put down due to a prolapsed penis.

Four other horses needed urgent veterinary attention and a specialist equine vet said in 36 years of practice this was the worst case of neglect she had seen.

She said the horses were starving, lame, and suffering mental anguish, with skin irritation and swollen and painful limbs.

They were also feeling cold due to their emaciation and were exhibiting awkwardness in walking.

Edmund and Rosena Edge, both aged 63, of Swanstone Cottage, Exbourne near Okehampton, admitted six animal welfare offences.

They were sentenced by Exeter Magistrates' Court to 26 weeks in prison, suspended for 12 months, and banned from keeping animals for ten years.

Edmund Edge was also ordered to carry out 150 hours unpaid work and both were ordered to pay £500 costs.

RSPCA Inspector Sarah Morris said:”The pitiful condition of the animals and the conditions they endured were wholly preventable and unacceptable.

“It was sadly clear to see that the needs of the horses were not being met. They all appeared to be either emaciated or severely underweight.

“It was immediately apparent that there were serious welfare issues and that the animals were in a suffering state.”