Australian strawberry supervisor 'inserted needles for revenge'

The accused arrives at the Brisbane watch house. Source 7NewsMore

The accused arrives at the Brisbane watch house. Source 7NewsMore

An Australian woman has been charged for allegedly hiding sewing needles inside strawberries bound for supermarkets across the country in a freaky crime that left a number of people hospitalized and sparked a string of copycat incidents.

The accused woman is due to appear in the Brisbane Magistrates Court tomorrow.

Trinh's lawyer Michael Cridland made a bail application but withdrew it after magistrate Christine Roney advised it was "premature" because the motivation behind the alleged contamination was still unclear.

Suncoast Harvest managing director Di West said her business had to leave more than one million punnets of strawberries on the ground, after the original and a number of copycat cases sent prices crashing.

It was claimed the 50-year-old, a Vietnamese refugee who arrived in Australia by boat two decades ago, was "motivated by spite or revenge".

On Monday, police described their investigation as "far from over".

Needles were also reportedly found in at least one mango and at least one banana, though it's unclear whether these were isolated incidents, possibly executed by a copycat, or if they were related to the strawberries scare.

A 50-year-old woman is being driven into the police watch-house in Brisbane, Sunday, November 11, 2018.

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She had fruit stuck in New Zealand and Singapore at the peak of the crisis, which she was unable to sell.

"Driving up to the coast when Hoani van Dorp bites through a strawberry and swallows half a sewing needle", Joshua Gane, the victim's friend, wrote in a Facebook post at the time.

A safety warning over the strawberries has been in effect since 12 September.

Her arrest follows a complex investigation into the alleged contamination of strawberries in Queensland in September.

It led to major financial losses within Australia's multi-million pound strawberry industry, with fruit removed from supermarket shelves and destroyed.

Jon Wacker, a police official said: "This has probably been one of the most trying investigations that I've been part of".

The Queensland government announced a $100,000 reward to catch the culprit behind the scandal while Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt ordered the Food Standards Australia New Zealand to investigate the contamination.

Queensland Strawberry Growers Association vice president Adrian Schultz thanked police for their work.

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