A woman who left her 27 dogs to rot in squalor so bad it left three of them dead has had her jail sentence quashed.

Cruel dog owner Elaine Erskine has won her appeal against her 14 week jail sentence, despite an appeal sheriff branding her crime ‘sickening’.

The 58-year-old from Stewarton was jailed for 14 weeks in October and banned for life from keeping animals by Sheriff Michael Hanlon who said it was “the worst cruelty case he’s seen”.

Kilmarnock Sheriff Court previously heard how SSPCA officers visited Erskine’s infested home following a tip-off and found dogs wasting away, emaciated and “on the brink of death” following six months of neglect.

After Sheriff Hanlon sentenced her to jail, Erskine immediately appealed her sentence and was freed the same day pending a hearing at the High Court in Edinburgh which took place last week.

At the hearing her lawyer Iain Paterson said Erskine had been ‘depressed and lonely’ after the breakdown of an abusive relationship but could be punished without sending her to prison.

Appeal Sheriff Nigel Ross agreed and instead sentenced her to 200 hours unpaid work.

He said: “This was a sickening case of cruelty towards a large amount of animals.

“But we are persuaded, with hesitation, that the sentencing sheriff has not given sufficient weight to the vulnerability of the appellant.”

Horror images revealed the harrowing state of the property, where the dogs were left in squalor. Two German Shepherds were pictured dying in their own filth at Erskine’s bungalow.

When SSPCA officers arrived the dogs Arti and Rosie were covered in open sores and too weak to lift their heads off the floor.

One was put to sleep on the spot and the other was euthanised later along with a Jack Russell found in agony from open wounds on its legs and in severe distress.

Other dogs were crammed into locked cages in rooms infested with rubbish and faeces.

Mr Paterson told the court his client was ‘ashamed and disgusted’ by her behaviour.

He said: “There are serious offences and the custody threshold has been met – but there are alternatives to custody.

“What has happened is that the appellant was involved in an abusive relationship which ended, leaving her suffering from depression.

“Matters got on top of her.

“This home was not fit for habitation by humans or animals.

“Her illness, depression and loneliness, has caused an accumulation of problems.

“She accepts full responsibility and is ashamed and disgusted by her own behaviour.”

Erskine wiped away tears in the dock before being allowed to leave the court.

She earlier admitted failing to give the dogs food, water and bedding between December 2017 and March this year.