The charges against a Queensland woman, who was accused of putting needles in strawberries in 2018, have been dropped. Miss My Ut Trinh, who was a farm supervisor at Berrylicious farm in Caboolture, north of Brisbane, was arrested after needles began showing up in punnets at supermarkets. The contamination scare saw strawberries pulled off the shelves and tons of the fruit dumped at the peak of the growing season. Growers were forced to destroy entire crops with financial losses estimated at about $160m.
Copycat cases and hoaxes emerged and police at the time warned people to check before eating strawberries, with more than 180 reports of contamination. More than 65 strawberry brands were affected across the country.
The 53-year-old was facing eight counts of contamination of goods with intent to cause economic loss. She was set to face a four-week trial in the Brisbane District Court this week but proceedings were delayed by ongoing legal arguments between her lawyers and the prosecution.
Without elaborating, Judge Michael Byrne this morning told Miss Trinh's interpreters to relay to her: "The prosecution have indicated that they will no longer proceed against you with these charges. You are now discharged and you can leave the dock."
Abc.net.au quoted her as saying: “Thank you. I don’t know how to talk. I no talk but I work my job nearly 20 years, I eat fruit every day,” she said. “I no work for almost three years.”
Police have said 230 needle contamination incidents were ultimately reported nationwide, affecting 68 strawberry brands.