AN ex-armed forces officer who admitted posting racist comments on Facebook about the destruction of mosques and death of Muslims has escaped an immediate jail term.

Donna Bowdler, of no fixed abode, was given a second chance by magistrates after the court heard she had been living within the confines of the law and had not committed any further offences since she was charged with posting offensive messages last year.

But the Warrington Guardian can reveal that as recent as August, offensive messages relating to Islam have appeared on the 39-year-old's account.

The desicison has been made not to repost the messages due to the graphic nature.

An investigation was first launched into Bowdler after police were made aware that a 'concerning' letter had been sent to the commanding officer at an army barracks in Warrington signed by the defendant.

When officers from Cheshire Police visited her house she was asked if she had any weapons inside.

Bowdler, who has no previous convictions, admitting legally possessing an air pistol and air rifle but failed to mention owning a pepper spray cannister which she had purchased from Amazon for £11.

This was uncovered by officers during a search of the property.

Three bags of cannabis were also found.

She was arrested on suspicion of owning an illegal weapon but, following questioning, she was bailed pending further enquiries.

Officers continued with their investigation and the defendant's Facebook account was examined where offensive and racist messages were discovered.

Alison Warburton, prosecuting, said: "She was told by the officer that some of the posts could be seen to incite racial hatred.

"She replied that she was highlighting the atrocities that are happening on a daily basis."

Tammy Mitchell, defending, said Bowdler, who recently lost her home in Warrington, has presented herself as 'tolerant, forgiving and patient' person during their discussions.

She added that the defendant had complied with the police when they visited her and she had bought the pepper spray as she did not realise it was a banned item in the UK.

Ms Mitchell added: "She had completely forgotten she had the pepper spray in her possession.

"It was in her own private address and there is no evidence it has been brandished or taken out of the address."

Bowdler was sentenced to 28 weeks in prison which was suspended for two years at Halton Magistrates’ Court on Monday.

She was also ordered to complete a 24 day rehabilitation programme and pay £115 victim surcharge and £85 in costs.