Magistrates told the 20-year-old they would be considering a custodial sentence after two ponies were discovered emaciated and one dead in Shebbear.

A YOUNG woman was told she could be facing a custodial sentence for ‘abandoning’ her three ponies, two of which died as a result.

Chelsea Jenkins, 20, of Gilda Close, Whitchurch, Bristol, was found guilty in her absence last month of seven charges of animal cruelty.

North Devon Magistrates Court heard yesterday (Weds) how she caused unnecessary suffering to one bay pony mare and two chestnut coloured colts between September 4 and October 16 last year.

The offences happened after she moved to Bristol and left the ponies in Shebbear in October.

When the horses were discovered by the RSPCA, one of the colts was dead and another had to be put down some weeks later due to an untreated abscess.

John Wyatt, prosecuting on behalf of the RSPCA, read a statement to magistrates from vet Paul Jarvis who attended the scene with the RSPCA and police.

He described the scene as ‘very sad’ and said it gave him the impression of ‘a group of ponies that had been abandoned’.

One of the colts had been dead for some days and was severely emaciated, with signs it could have been recumbent for some time before death.

The other colt, which was discovered standing over the dead pony and nuzzling it, was also emaciated and seemed ‘subdued’, said Mr Jarvis.

After it was seized by police and taken to Mullacott Equine Hospital, an abscess on the colt’s face was examined and found to be so severe it had to be put down.

The third pony, which was found searching among the faeces-covered floor for signs of food, has since be rehomed and was the only animal to survive.

The court heard the ponies had been left without food, water, or clean bedding.

In interview, Jenkins alleged she had left the ponies in the care of Mr Tucker, who pleaded not guilty last month to five counts of causing unnecessary suffering to the ponies.

Zara Svensson, defending, said Jenkins had not attended court previously because she had her dates mixed up, but she would have pleaded guilty had she attended.

She said Jenkins had moved to Bristol to get away from her abusive partner and had only recently got out of a women’s refuge.

But Mr Wyatt interjected, stating in interview Jenkins said she had moved back to Bristol because her boyfriend was disabled and they wanted to be closer to his family.

He also said the RSPCA would be seeking costs in excess of £7,000 due to the vets fees, investigation fees and the cost of boarding after the animals were seized.

Magistrates adjourned the sentencing for a pre-sentence report from probation.

Chairman of the bench Jilly Cooper told Jenkins she was looking at the possibility of a custodial sentence, but it would be in the hands of the sentencing bench.

Jenkins, who appeared in court on a warrant with bail, was released on unconditional bail to return for sentencing at North Devon Magistrates Court on May 24 at 3pm.