Woman accused of putting needles in strawberries appears in court

Woman accused of putting needles in strawberries appears in court

Strawberries containing needles were first reported in Queensland, the third most populous of Australia's six states, on September 8 after a 21-year-old man who had unwittingly consumed one of the contaminated berries was rushed to the hospital with "severe abdominal pains".

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.

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

The Queensland Police Service co-ordinated a national investigative response with multiple government, law enforcement and intelligence agencies.

My Ut Trinh, 50, who worked for the Berrylicious/Berry Obsession farm in Caboolture, Queensland, was denied bail at Brisbane Magistrates Court on Monday.

A 50-year-old woman is being driven into the police watch-house in Brisbane, Sunday, November 11, 2018.

The investigation is ongoing, police said.

A former farm worker accused of contaminating strawberries with needles will remain behind bars after being arrested in what Queensland police say is one of the most trying investigations they have conducted.

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Police did not reveal the reasons and motives behind her alleged involvement.

Australia's multimillion-pound strawberry industry suffered major financial losses, with fruit recalled from supermarket shelves and destroyed.

The woman faces up to 10 years in jail if found guilty after Australia's conservative government toughened sentencing in a bid to contain the crisis.

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.

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. If she is charged and convicted, she could face 10 years in prison.

"There may be retribution from people seeking to locate her", Cheryl Tesch, the prosecutor, told the court.

In Queensland, where the strawberry industry is worth A$160m (£89m; $115m) a year, the local government pledged A$1m to support the state's stricken farmers.

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