Vicious thug Mark Telford was condemned as "sick and twisted" yesterday as he was convicted of shooting two show ponies using his crossbow.

He fired lethal 18-inch bolts at the ponies because he was angry after a drunken row with a friend.

Prince and Frisco were used as target practice by Telford, who claimed he knew SAS survival techniques in bringing down animals.

Telford used a Commando 2 crossbow in the attack - one of the most powerful in the world - and the horses were found cowering by their owner David Scott, 42, the following morning with the bolts lodged in them.

Telford, who chose to represent himself during the trial, denied the attack but was found guilty of two charges of damaging property at Newcastle Crown Court yesterday.

The 28-year-old pipefitter remained expressionless as the jury delivered its verdict.

The court heard how Prince had been shot in the head while the shaft of another bolt was sticking out of Frisco's neck.

Telford, 28, attacked the animals after a night of drinking at a deserted mine shaft with Thomas Harris on March 11 last year.

The court heard how the horses' owner returned to their field in Whickham, near Gateshead, the following morning and was horrified to see Frisco, a three-year-old mare, and five-year-old Prince with bolts sticking out of their bodies.

Telford was arrested on March 14 after he returned to work in Dumfries, south-west Scotland. A police search of his Tyneside home revealed the crossbow.

The horses, once valued at about £3,000 each are now believed to be worth £350 and £500. A hearing will be held at a later date to establish the exact cost of the damage.

Prince was left suffering eye problems and Frisco is now "extremely nervous".

The ponies belong to Mr Scott's five children, Bridy, 17, Kelly, 16, Kirstey, 14, Shawney-Lee, 11, and Connell, five.

Acting Sergeant Steven Oliver, who gave evidence in the trial, said after the verdict: "This was a horrific shooting of two horses."

Bridy said: "I haven't been able to take them out or ride them at all since they were shot."

Telford, of Wordsworth Avenue, Whickham, will be sentenced after the preparation of reports.

He was remanded in custody