NSW detectives believe all the incidents of fruit contamination in the state have been the work of copycats and pranksters and have vowed offenders will feel the full weight of the law.
Acting Assistant Commissioner Stuart Smith on Wednesday announced a $100,000 reward for information leading to the conviction of anyone who’s contaminated fruit in NSW.
He also revealed that investigators believe the original sabotage was confined to three strawberry brands sold in Queensland.
“What we’ve seen in the state (of NSW) we believe is the work of copycats and pranksters, we’ve got to deal with it though, the way we deal with any crime,” Mr Smith told reporters in Sydney.
Young person arrested
It is unclear if it was a boy or girl that pulled the prank on friends at school.
The acting assistant commissioner said detectives had already arrested one young person over behaviour that “could be called a prank”.
“Obviously in the last few days we found a young person has admitted to a prank, including putting needles in strawberries, and they’ll be dealt with under the youth cautioning system,” he said.
In NSW the maximum penalty for deliberately contaminating a food source is 10 years in jail.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Wednesday announced urgent and harsh new commonwealth criminal penalties for contaminating food.
Further cases of sabotage
An extra three cases have been reported, including one in Newcastle involving a needle in a banana which was packed in a child’s lunchbox, and two more strawberry contamination reports in Tasmania, one of them involving a two-year-old girl. Also apples were found in Tasmania to contain needles.
We will continue to update as the incidents unfold.
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