Woman charged over Australia strawberry needle scare

12 November, 2018, 13:46 | Author: Donnie King
  • BREAKING: Woman arrested following major investigation into national strawberry contamination

Police began investigating in September when sewing needles were first found in fruit, with a further 230 incidents ultimately reported nationwide impacting 68 strawberry brands.

Police launched the investigation into the needle contamination when a man allegedly swallowed an affected berry in Queensland on September 9.

A farm worker accused of planting needles in strawberries during the contamination crisis may have been motivated by revenge, a court has heard.

The 50-year-old woman was taken into Queensland Police custody on Sunday after leading a months-long investigation involving authorities and intelligence agencies from multiple states.

Earlier on Monday, Detective John Walker said the investigation had been unique in that it involved nearly every state and jurisdiction in the country.

She is expected to appear in Brisbane Magistrates Court on Monday.

The 50-year-old woman is the first suspect to face charges in the episode.

The investigation is ongoing, police said.

The woman, whose identity has not yet been released by police, faces seven counts of contamination of goods, according to a statement released by the Queensland Police Service.

Braetop Berries strawberry farmer Aidan Young holds a strawberry as he poses amid strawberries he will destroy following a nationwide needle scare, on his farm in the Glass House Mountains in Queensland on September 20, 2018.

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.

Queensland's strawberry industry collapsed during the industry's growing season, with thousands of strawberries dumped as supermarkets and shops pulled the fruit from shelves.

In response, Australia's government raised the maximum prison term for fruit tampering from 10 to 15 years. "It's a fairly unique investigation where virtually the whole of State Crime Command, over 100 members from State Crime Command undertook the investigation", Walker said. Her next court appearance will be on November 22.

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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