Self-styled nun sent powder suspected to be anthrax to Nick Clegg

A self-styled nun who sent envelopes containing white powder to top politicians, including deputy PM Nick Clegg was spared jail today.

‘Sister’ Ruth Augustus, 72, scrawled bizarre slogans about devil worship and freemasonry on the six letters before posting them.

When they were intercepted at a mail screening centre staff found them stuffed with a gritty white powder initially believed to be anthrax.

One envelope addressed to Mr Clegg had ‘devil worshipping’, ‘freemason’ and ‘your poor Catholic wife and children’ written on it.

Augustus, of Lea Bridge Road, who also gave Cricketfield Road, Lower Clapton as an address in court, was convicted of six counts of hoaxes involving a noxious substance and two counts of harassment.

Letters were also sent to former Labour Home Office minister Baroness Scotland and barrister and Labour peer Baroness Kennedy daubed with swastikas.

Augustus claimed the powder had been planted by the police but was convicted of plotting the hoaxes after a trial at Harrow Crown Court.

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When she appeared at the Old Bailey to be sentenced she demanded to be addressed as ‘Sister Ruth’, bellowing from the dock: “I am a Catholic nun”.

The judge, Mr Justice Saunders, said she would normally have been sent to prison for her antics.

Instead he handed her a two-year community order requiring her to be treated for mental health problems, including a persistent delusional disorder.

The judge told her: “Had (the recipients) opened the letters and found the powder there can be no doubt it would have been a terrifying experience for them, not knowing what the powder was contained in those envelopes.”

During the hearing, Augustus asked court staff whether they could hear ticking coming from her trolley and asked members of the press in court to put her on page three of The Sun.