Self-proclaimed nun behind white powder hoax in England is spared jail time

A self-proclaimed nun who sent letters containing white powder to politicians in the United Kingdom, including deputy prime minister Nick Clegg, was recently given a two-year community order instead of jail time.

The order requires Ruth Augustus to be treated for mental health problems, including a persistent delusional disorder. Augustus is already subject to a restraining order that bans her from contacting members of parliament, the Daily Mail reports.

Augustus wrote six letters to multiple government politicians that contained bizarre slogans related to freemasonry and devil worship. Augustus claimed the powder was planted by the police but was later convicted of six counts of hoaxes involving a noxious substance and two counts of harassment by a Harrow Crown Court.

"The white powder was in fact harmless but the recipients would not have known that," Justice John Saunders said, according to the Daily Mail. "Had they 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 sentencing, Augustus, who was pulling a shopping cart with plastic flowers and a Union Jack, repeatedly interrupted the proceedings.

Postal officials found the first letters in a mail screening center on June 17, 2011. The letters contained a gritty substance that was thought initially to be anthrax. Tests came back negative and the substance was found to be non-hazardous, the Daily Mail reports.