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Bitter sweet: Charges dropped against woman accused of strawberry sabotage

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A woman accused of sparking a national food safety panic when needles were found inside strawberries has had all charges against her dropped.

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Former strawberry farm supervisor My Ut Trinh, 51, was due to stand trial charged with food contamination offences.

However, the start of the Brisbane District Court trial was delayed after two days of legal argument and Trinh was told on Wednesday that prosecutors had dropped all charges.

“The prosecution have indicated that they will no longer proceed against you with these charges,” Justice Michael Byrne said.

“You are now discharged and you can leave the dock.”

Outside court Trinh and supporters embraced and wiped away tears.

“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 told AAP.

“I no work for almost three years.”

Supports said Trinh had been separated from the world for three years since being charged.

“She has been so hard done by, it has been horrific,” one supporter said.

Trinh had worked at Berrylicious in her hometown of Caboolture, north of Brisbane, between September 2 and 7, 2018, when prosecutors previously alleged she inserted needles into the fruit.

She had been charged with seven counts of contamination of goods with intent to cause economic loss.

Growers were forced to destroy entire crops with financial losses estimated at about $160 million.

The first needle was discovered on September 9, 2018 when a man bit into a contaminated strawberry he bought at a supermarket.

As more needles were discovered around the country – with many believed to have been planted by copycats – strawberries were stripped from shelves.

Police have said 230 needle contamination incidents were ultimately reported nationwide, affecting 68 strawberry brands.

 

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