Woman charged over strawberry contamination to remain behind bars

UPDATE @ 12.30 PM | A Queensland woman accused of sabotaging strawberries with needles will remain behind bars until at least next week.

My Ut Trinh appeared in the Brisbane Magistrates Court on Monday where her lawyer withdrew an application for bail.

The court heard the 50-year-old’s DNA was found in a punnet of strawberries in Victoria, leading to her arrest on Sunday.


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Ms Trinh, who was a supervisor at the Berry Licious farm in Queensland, is facing seven counts of contamination of goods, which has a three year maximum penalty.

Queensland Police allege the offences were aggravated, elevating the maximum to 10 years imprisonment.

Detective Superintendent Jon Wacker from the Drug and Serious Crime Group said the investigation is “far from over”.

“This is a major and unprecedented police investigation with a lot of complexities involved,” Superintendent Wacker said.

“The Queensland Police Service has allocated a significant amount of resources to ensure those responsible are brought to justice.

“While the investigation is far from over, I would like to acknowledge the tireless effort of our investigators as well as members from all other agencies across Australia who played a role.”

The case has been adjourned until November 22.

EARLIER @ November 12, 6.15 AM | A WOMAN has now been charged following a protracted and complex police investigation into Australia’s strawberry contamination scare.

The 50-year-old Caboolture woman was arrested on Sunday afternoon and charged with seven counts contamination of goods which has a three year maximum penalty.

Queensland Police will allege the offences were aggravated, elevating the maximum to 10 years imprisonment.

A public health alert was issued on September 12 after sewing needles were found inserted in strawberries that had been grown and purchased in southeast Queensland.

Detective Superintendent Jon Wacker from the Drug and Serious Crime Group said investigators were always determined to solve the case.

“This is a major and unprecedented police investigation with a lot of complexities involved,” Superintendent Wacker said.

“The Queensland Police Service has allocated a significant amount of resources to ensure those responsible are brought to justice.”

The woman is due to appear in the Brisbane Magistrates Court today.

EARLIER @ November 11, 4.30 PM by Jaydan Duck | A WOMAN has been arrested and is expected to be charged later this evening following a protracted and complex police investigation into Australia’s strawberry contamination scare.

A public health alert was issued on September 12 after sewing needles were found inserted in strawberries that been grown and purchased in southeast Queensland.

Queensland Police coordinated a national investigation with multiple government, law enforcement and intelligence agencies and setup a dedicated taskforce to identify and locate the person responsible for the contamination.

At the time, a disgruntled ex-employee was thought have sabotaged a strawberry farm on the Sunshine Coast.

Following an extensive investigation, Queensland Police released a statement on Sunday afternoon, confirming detectives had arrested a 50-year-old woman.

Her alleged involvement in the contamination is not yet known.

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

After news of the contamination first broke, dozens of ‘copycat’ cases began popping up across the country, with reports of needles in strawberries, apples, oranges and even bananas emerging in every state and territory.

The scare brought the strawberry industry to its knees and forced the federal government to introduce harsher penalties for those caught tampering with food.

A photo of one of the original ‘needle in strawberry’ cases | Source: Joshua Gane via Facebook

At the peak of the crisis, police were investigating more than 100 reports of tampered fruit nationally, most of which turned out to be fake.

A 34-year-old man from South Australia who called police, claiming his daughter had bitten into a contaminated strawberry was later found to have lied about the incident.

He was charged with making a false report to police and falsely claiming goods had been contaminated.

His arrest came after a teenage boy was arrested in New South Wales and dealt with under the youth cautioning system after he admitted to putting needles in strawberries as a prank.

Thankfully, no one was seriously harmed from eating a contaminated strawberry.

Investigations are continuing.

If you have information for Police, please contact Policelink on 131 444 or provide information using their online form 24 hours per day.

You can also report information about crime anonymously to Crime Stoppers by calling 1800 333 000 or via crimestoppersqld.com.au 24 hours per day. Crime Stoppers is a registered charity and community volunteer organisation.

Shanee is a full-time Digital Journalist and Social Media Content Producer. In 2014, Shanee graduated from Griffith University’s Gold Coast Campus with a Bachelor of Communications majoring in Journalism, Public Relations and Marketing. Since joining 1029 Hot Tomato, Shanee has been keeping you up to date with breaking news and everything Gold Coast on myGC. Shanee also writes and photographs for Peony & Page, a personal home, style and travel blog & Instagram alias she founded in 2015.

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