Published: Mon, November 12, 2018
Worldwide | By Stella Potter

Woman charged over Australia strawberry needle scare

Woman charged over Australia strawberry needle scare

Australia's strawberry industry, worth A$160 million ($116 million), was rocked in September after almost 200 complaints were made of sewing needles found in strawberries and other fruits.

A safety warning over the strawberries has been in effect since 12 September.

An Australian woman has been charged for allegedly hiding sewing needles inside strawberries bound for supermarkets across the country in a weird crime that left a number of people hospitalized and sparked a string of copycat incidents.

Detective John Walker of the State Crime Command said she worked in the strawberry industry near the town of Caboolture, north of Brisbane.

Suspect My Ut Trinh, 50, arrives at Brisbane police watch-house on Sunday.

She has not said whether she will fight the charges against her.

The refugee, who asked for a Vietnamese interpreter, is charged with seven counts of contamination of goods - between September 2 to 5 - with intent to cause economic loss.

Authorities in all six of the country's states were investigating the tampering that has led to needles or pins being found in strawberries, apples and bananas.

"This has probably been one of the most trying investigations that I've been part of", Jon Wacker, a police official in the largest strawberry producing region of Queensland, where the crisis was first reported, told reporters.

Her alleged involvement in the contamination is not yet known.

Ms Trinh went to a pre-arranged meeting with police to provide a DNA sample two weeks ago, prior to her arrest, Mr Cridland said.

November 11 - My Ut Trinh was taken into custody and charged with seven counts of contamination of goods.

Queensland's strawberry industry collapsed during the industry's growing season, with thousands of strawberries dumped as supermarkets and shops pulled the fruit from shelves.

The Queensland and West Australian governments both offered $100,000 rewards for information leading to the arrest of the person or people responsible, while Prime Minister Scott Morrison introduced tougher fruit-tampering laws that would see those convicted face greater jail time.

The Queensland Strawberry Growers Association have also congratulated Queensland Police for their efforts.

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