Criminal charge on ‘terror’ prank at electoral office
A YOUNG Lower Wonga man will face a criminal charge in Gympie Magistrates Court next month after Wednesday's terror scare at the Gympie Electoral Commission office.
Gympie Police patrol group chief Jon Lewis said police had investigated the issue and a male, 26, had been served with a notice to appear in court on March 2 on a charge of interfering with an election.
"We're satisfied the substance was not hazardous and there was no sinister intent.
"Our checks, backed up by analysis indicate it was cooking herbs, '' he said.
But the seriousness of the offence came from the emotional turmoil potentially suffered by victims who spent four hours in lockdown not knowing what it was they had been exposed to.
"These types of actions are regarded as extremely serious, which is why we are proceeding under the criminal code.
"I understand some in the community may see it as a harmless joke, but the reality is that there is a significant financial cost to taxpayers, given that we have to take all these incidents seriously and respond at the highest level.
"We've had scientific experts from the Queensland Fire and Emergency Service, ambulance, police, but just as importantly we had the emotional turmoil innocent people experience just trying to go about their normal business.
"To me, that's more important than the cost.
"I'd like to join Tony Scott from the QFES and thank (election official) Ken Garner and his staff for the calm and professional way they went about responding to this situation," Insp Lewis said.