Woman charged over needles in strawberries

Woman charged over needles in strawberries

She is expected to be charged this evening and will appear in the Brisbane Magistrates Court tomorrow.

The Queensland Strawberry Growers Association welcomed the arrest, stating that "It was a crisis driven by social media and the only real victims were the strawberry growers, and to some extent other Australian fruit growers and exporters".

Prosecutor Cheryl Tesch opposed bail, citing concerns of witness interference and public retribution, broadcaster ABC said.

The first needle was discovered on September 9 when a man bit into a contaminated strawberry he bought at a supermarket, and Trinh nearly immediately became a person of interest to police, the court heard.

The accused, identified as My Ut Trinh, spent the night behind bars last night, and is facing seven charges of goods contamination, police report.

Growers like Trinh's boss suffered massive financial losses as they were forced to destroy crops.

Angela Stevenson from the central Queensland town of Gladstone also found a needle inside fruit in a Berry Obsession punnet on 11 September, but not before her nine-year-old son bit into a contaminated strawberry that he had taken to school.

He said Trinh, a former refugee who arrived in Australia by boat more than two decades ago, had strong family ties to Brisbane.

Walker said the police investigation into the broader crisis was continuing.

He said any risk of flight could be mitigated by "suitable firm conditions" like forfeiting her passport.

A Vietnamese refugee who arrived by boat two decades ago and became an Australian citizen, Trinh was working as a supervisor of fruit pickers at the Berrylicious strawberry farm near Caboolture, north of Brisbane, when she allegedly inserted needles into the fruit between September 2 and 5, the court was told.

Trinh was remanded in custody until November 22.

Police say one occasion of aggravation contamination will be alleged, meaning the woman will face a maximum of 10 years in prison if convicted.

State Crime Command Superintendent Jon Wacker told reporters before the court hearing that 230 incidents were reported nationwide, impacting 68 strawberry brands.

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