A COUPLE left two dogs in a tent for so long during a scorching summer’s day they “cooked to death”.

TJ Gregory and Sarah Henniker were living in a tent in Martello Bay Holiday Park in Jaywick last year with pugs Millie and Tito.

But they left the animals zipped up alone inside for eight hours in July when the mercury outside had risen to 34 degrees - with the temperature inside much higher than that.

Henniker left the tent at 9am and came back after 5pm.

Realising the animals had died, the pair wrapped them in a sleeping bag with the intention of burying them later on.

However, they were challenged by security staff who alerted the authorities and moved the dogs to a secure area.

Both admitted causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal.

Lauren Bond, prosecuting at Colchester Magistrates’ Court, said they had been “cooked to death” and showed signs of heat stroke.

The dogs had belonged to Henniker since they were puppies and had previously been well cared for, although the couple had fed them soup and tomatoes when they were homeless.

Mark Pearson, mitigating for both, said they had never wanted to hurt the pets but accepted they should have known to come back sooner.

District Judge Timothy King said: “One can only imagine the way those animals must have suffered.

“It is a horrible way for them to lose their lives.”

He handed Henniker, 33, and Gregory, 28, of Blackberry Hill, Clacton, 18 month community orders with 160 hours of unpaid work each. Gregory was also given 20 rehabilitation days.

They have been banned from keeping animals for five years.

Both must pay £390 in court charges too.