A 50-year-old woman has been charged with the original act that sparked Australia’s needles in strawberries saga.
My Ut Trinh faces seven counts of contaminating goods under Section 238 of Queensland’s Criminal Code, which carries a maximum three-year prison sentence. A circumstance of aggravation will also be alleged, elevating the maximum to 10 years imprisonment.
According to ABC News, the charges are linked to one of the first detections made in September involving the Berry Licious brand.
The Queensland Strawberry Growers Association congratulated Queensland Police for its efforts but said it was disconcerting that the charges relate to only six or seven punnets of strawberries, proving that the majority of the ensuing incidents were copycats or false reports.
“Controlling bad public behaviour, including product tampering, is a challenge beyond the control of farmers. There was never an issue with the quality, integrity and freshness of local grown strawberries,” the association said in a release.
“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.”
Trinh is due to appear in the Brisbane Magistrates Court today (12 November). Detective Superintendent Jon Wacker from Queensland Police’s 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,” Wacker said.
“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.
“I would also like to thank those within the strawberry industry for their cooperation and members of the public who assisted us with our inquiries.”