A woman has been charged after a “complex” investigation into an Australian strawberry scare where needles were found stuck into the fruit, police said on Sunday (Nov 11), in a crisis that sparked nationwide panic.
Queensland state authorities offered a large reward and the national government raised jail terms for such crimes after sewing needles were found in plastic boxes of the fruit sold in supermarkets in September.
Since the first case came to light when a man was taken to hospital with stomach pains after consuming strawberries, more than 100 alleged incidents of pins and needles found in fruit, mostly strawberries, were reported in September around the country.
One incident was also reported in neighbouring New Zealand.
Police said a 50-year-old woman, a former farm supervisor, My Ut Trinh, worked at one of the strawberry farms where the tampered produce was grown, was arrested and charged on Sunday afternoon with seven counts of contaminating goods “following a complex… and extensive investigation”.
“This is a major and unprecedented police investigation with a lot of complexities involved,” Detective Superintendent Jon Wacker said in a statement. “The Queensland Police Service has allocated a significant amount of resources to ensure those responsible are brought to justice.”
The woman was charged on Sunday evening and appeared in court in Brisbane on Monday. Bail was denied after prosecutors said she could suffer retribution for her alleged actions.
The court was told she was motivated by spite and revenge when she allegedly inserted the needles into the berries in early September.
– The Straits Times
– photo/The Hits NZ