A FORMER country estate owner has lost her bid to overturn a lifetime ban on keeping farm animals after York Crown Court heard of the suffering endured by her cattle and sheep.

RSPCA officers found five sheep that had died of starvation, one of which had its head trapped in a wooden frame, a lamb dead down a well, a Hereford bull that had suffered with arthritis for months, and a Hereford cow with a long-term major abscess when they were called to Sheriff Hutton Hall in April 2010, John Boumphrey, for the charity said.

The animals’ condition was so bad, both were immediately put down.

Pamela Palmer, who was evicted from the £4.5 million estate north of York in April 2010 for unpaid debts, and now lives in Dorset, pleaded guilty to three charges of animal cruelty.

York magistrates gave her a lifetime ban from keeping farm animals as well as an 18-week jail term suspended for 12 months. She appealed against the ban on the grounds it was too long.

Palmer did not appear for any hearing before the crown court. The fourth time it was listed, she claimed she had a migraine that prevented her from travelling, and sent a doctor’s letter supporting this.

But Recorder Andrew Haslam, sitting with two magistrates, said though Palmer claimed she had visited the doctor the day before the hearing, the letter was dated December 12, 2011, and rejected an application to adjourn the case.

“We have little if any faith in the appellant attending court,” he said.

The bench heard the appeal in her absence, including legal submissions on her behalf that she had been in the livestock industry all her life and had difficulty coping for medical reasons, but dismissed the appeal.

“We can see nothing wrong with the period of disqualification set by the magistrates, having regard to the terrible suffering these animals must have had to endure,” said Mr Haslam.

He and the magistrates ordered Palmer to pay £500 towards the RSPCA’s costs, on top of the £500 magistrates ordered her to pay for the original court case.

She has given different ages at different times ranging from 54 to 71 and lives on a state pension and pension credit.