Paul Benjamin Wright denies falsely claiming strawberries had been contaminated.An Adelaide man accused of making a fake report about a contaminated strawberry insists he was telling the truth.
Paul Benjamin Wright, 34, faced Adelaide Magistrates Court on Wednesday after he allegedly told police his daughter had discovered a needle in a berry.
The court heard Wright claimed the sabotaged fruit had been purchased at a supermarket in Adelaide’s northeastern suburbs, as concern grew about similar cases reported across the country,
Wright, who was not represented by a lawyer, said he intended to plead not guilty to making a false report and falsely claiming goods had been contaminated.
“I did make the claims, but what happened actually happened,” he told reporters outside court.
A police prosecutor said Wright made the report after watching a news story about contaminated strawberries and was charged after a subsequent investigation.
He said the prosecution case would be supported by a receipt, supermarket CCTV footage and a record of Wright’s police interview.
The strawberry industry was thrown into turmoil last month when more than 100 incidents of sewing needles pushed into berries were reported, with many believed to be fake or copycat cases.
The crisis prompted supermarkets to dump tonnes of strawberries and forced growers to throw away thousands of dollars in fruit.
In response to the scare, the federal government increased penalties for food tamperers, who could now be jailed for up to 15 years.
The South n government also provided $50,000 to support local strawberry producers by installing a metal detector at the SA Produce Market.
Magistrate David McLeod on Wednesday continued Wright’s bail to appear before Elizabeth Magistrates Court next month.