Vietnamese-Australian suspect in strawberry needle scare granted bail

By Phan Anh   November 22, 2018 | 04:55 am PT
Vietnamese-Australian suspect in strawberry needle scare granted bail
Needles have been found inside strawberries and other fruits around Australia. Photo by Reuters/TV
The Vietnamese-Australian woman arrested earlier this month for allegedly pricking strawberries with pins was granted bail Thurday.

The ABC News reported that My Ut Trinh, 50, had been arrested by Australian police following a "complex and extensive investigation" into a food contamination case where sewing needles were found in strawberries shipped to different parts of the country in September.

Trinh, who worked at the Berry Licious farm at Caboolture in Brisbane's north, allegedly told a worker: "If I hate anyone, I will put the needle in the strawberry and make them go bankrupt," reports said.

The DNA found on one needle discovered in a strawberry inside a plastic container in Victoria was "100 billion times more likely" to be that of Trinh, prosecutor Cheryl Tesch told the Brisbane Magistrates Court.

Trinh was subsequently charged with seven counts of contaminating goods and held at the Brisbane Women’s Correctional Centre, but was granted bail by the Brisbane court on Thursday.

Trinh’s lawyer Nick Dore said the case against Trinh was based on "hearsay, innuendo and rumor," as the alleged conversation Trinh had with the worker was from "one or two years ago," and the worker didn’t think Trinh was being serious.

Additionally, Trinh had "no motive to commit the offense" and had "complied with police during investigation," said Dore. He further added that while Trinh’s DNA was indeed found on a needle, it failed to prove that Trinh inserted the needle into the strawberry in the first place.

Dore also said that Trinh was unlikely to re-offend if she were released on bail, and that "the risk to her personal safety" was low.

Trinh was granted bail under the conditions that she will not contact workers on the farm, surrender her passport and report to the police three times a week, the court stated.

The case was adjourned until December 17.

The strawberry scare first came to light in September and sparked nationwide panic back then. More than 230 alleged incidents of pins and needles were found in fruits, mostly strawberries, around Australia. As a result, hundreds of tons of strawberries were destroyed, prompting Australian government to spend approximately $725,000 to deal with the aftermath.

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