Monday 16 September 2019

Court hears spite drove woman to put needles in berries

'Farmers were forced to dump tonnes of strawberries and prices plunged as foreign and local demand plummeted and health authorities issued warnings.' Stock image
'Farmers were forced to dump tonnes of strawberries and prices plunged as foreign and local demand plummeted and health authorities issued warnings.' Stock image

Jonathan Pearlman

The Australian woman accused of inserting sewing needles into strawberries - sparking a nationwide fruit contamination scare - allegedly acted out of "spite or revenge".

My Ut Trinh (50) was arrested in Brisbane on Sunday, two months after the discovery of needles prompted copycat cases and led to supermarkets removing strawberries - and needles - from shelves.

Farmers were forced to dump tonnes of strawberries and prices plunged as foreign and local demand plummeted and health authorities issued warnings.

Brisbane magistrates court heard Ms Trinh worked as a supervisor at the Berry Licious farm, but did not pick strawberries or work in packing.

"The case that is put is that it is motivated by some spite or revenge," Magistrate Christine Roney said. "She has embarked on a course over several months of putting a metal object into fruit."

DNA

Police told the court Ms Trinh's DNA was found in a punnet of strawberries in the state of Victoria.

Superintendent Jon Wacker said there were 186 reports of sewing needles found in strawberries. Fifteen were found to be hoaxes and 68 brands were affected.

Following the initial discovery of contaminated strawberry punnets, which were believed to have originated in Queensland, needles were also found in bananas, apples and mangoes. Some were hoaxes, including people inserting needles after buying the fruit and then posting images on social media.

Prosecutors opposed bail for Ms Trinh, saying there was a risk of "witnesses being interfered with" and she faced retribution if released.

Irish Independent

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