[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Tuesday, 7 August 2007, 18:53 GMT 19:53 UK
Woman sentenced over anthrax hoax
June Pratt
The court was told Pratt sent the letter following a family feud
A woman has been given a suspended prison sentence and 200 hours community service for sparking an anthrax scare at a Kent nursery.

June Pratt, 50, of St Paul's Road, Margate, was convicted of sending a letter containing a threatening message at Margate Magistrates Court.

The court heard Pratt sent a white powder labelled anthrax to the Elms Nursery, run by her sister, on 6 March.

Pratt sent the substance, which was cornstarch, following a family feud.

It was an evil crime that was carried out without through for the welfare of the many innocent children or staff
Det Sgt Tristan Kluibenschadl

Magistrates were told the white powder and a note saying, "Anthrax - start taking antibiotics", were discovered when Pratt's sister, Sandra Berwick, opened the hand delivered letter.

The court heard the emergency services were called, 34 children were segregated and nine members of staff were put into solitary confinement.

Mrs Berwick and the nursery deputy were quarantined and the road was cordoned off.

Police traced Pratt through DNA left on the stamp and through hand writing on a letter of complaint she sent the same day to OFSTED.

Det Sgt Tristan Kluibenschadl said: "This offence was one that was carried out due to sheer jealousy and rage at her sister's success.

"It was an evil crime that was carried out without through for the welfare of the many innocent children or staff at the nursery.

"It was also an offence that wasted thousands of pounds of public money by engaging the time and resources of all three of the emergency services that were involved."

Pratt was given a four-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, a 12-month supervision order, 200-hours community service and ordered to pay 60 costs.

A woman is sentenced for sparking a anthrax scare

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific