Young boy arrested over strawberry needles

Australian police have said a young person admitted to a “prank” amid an epidemic of dangerous pins in fruit.

A young boy in Australia has admitted to putting needles in strawberries as a “prank”.

Police said the boy, who has not been named, confessed to the gag as investigations continue over deliberate fruit contamination.

They said they still did not know the motive for the attacks and were still looking for suspects.

Authorities have complained that the vast majority of the 100 reported cases were hoaxes, and warned that pranksters posting images on Facebook claiming that they have discovered tainted fruit could also face prosecution and potential jail time.

“Obviously in the last few days we found a young person has admitted to a prank, including putting needles in strawberries,” New South Wales Acting Assistant Commissioner Stuart Smith said.

“He’ll be dealt with under the youth cautioning system.”

With demand plunging for the soft fruit, strawberry farmers say they are being forced to dump and pulp produce, prompting fears for an industry worth $160m (£80m).

Sabotaging our strawberries is sabotaging our farmers. It’s not right. It’s not on. It’s a crime.

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Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said those caught piercing supermarket strawberries with needles are comparable to people guilty of possessing child pornography or financing terrorism.

He has called on parliament to raise the sentence for those caught contaminating fruit from 10 to 15 years in jail.

Insisting authorities were “not mucking about”, Mr Morrison also urged Australians to make a pavlova and put strawberries on it.

“Support our strawberry farmers and make a pav this weekend (or sooner). That’s what Jen and I will be doing – and Jen makes the best pav I’ve ever had,” he tweeted.

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