Sister Ruth Augustus guilty of Nick Clegg hoax letters

Nick Clegg
Image caption Nick Clegg was the intended recipient for one of Sister Ruth Augustus' letters.

A woman has been convicted of sending six envelopes containing white powder to parliamentary figures including deputy prime minister Nick Clegg.

The letters were intercepted at a mail screening centre and the powder was found to be non-hazardous, Harrow Crown Court was told.

Sister Ruth Augustus, 71, who claims to be a nun, denied six hoaxes involving noxious substances.

But the jury found her guilty by a majority verdict on all counts.

Mr Justice Saunders deferred the case until September for a hearing at the Old Bailey while a medical report is prepared on the defendant's mental health.

'Devil worshipping'

She was released on bail on condition that she "does not contact, directly or indirectly, any MP or senior government official" unless through her solicitor, the court heard.

Augustus, of Leyton, east London, accepted that she sent envelopes with letters in them but claimed police put the white powder in them, the court was told.

Mark Kimsey, prosecuting, said three envelopes were intercepted at a mail screening centre in east London on 17 June last year.

One was addressed to Mr Clegg and on the envelope was written "devil worshipping", "freemason", "sex with 30 plus women" and "your poor Catholic wife and children".

The second and third letters were to House of Lords members Baroness Scotland and Baroness Kennedy.

The envelopes contained a gritty substance but specialist police who were called in found them to be non-hazardous.

On 1 October, at the same place, three more envelopes were found, addressed to Mr Clegg, Lady Kennedy and MP Edward Leigh.

'Postmen will know'

The court heard that after her arrest, Augustus told police: "I'm Sister Ruth, a 71-year-old disabled nun."

She also said: "I look like a terrorist, don't I, working for a charity all over the world, with orphans?"

Asked if she was sending the letters for attention, she said: "Of course I am. I'm deliberately writing on the envelope as well so all the postmen will know all about it."

Following her conviction, Augustus turned to the public gallery as she left the courtroom and said she would be appealing against the verdict.

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