Mushroom cook Erin Patterson charged with murder over beef wellington lunch that left three dead

2 November 2023, 09:05 | Updated: 2 November 2023, 09:43

Erin Patterson, 49 (L) has been charged with murder. Don and Gail Patterson died after eating the beef wellington
Erin Patterson, 49 (L) has been charged with murder. Don and Gail Patterson died after eating the beef wellington. Picture: Social Media

By Asher McShane

A woman who cooked a mushroom lunch that resulted in the deaths of three people in Australia has been charged with murder and attempted murder.

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Erin Patterson, 49, was arrested and had been questioned by murder detectives in southeastern Victoria.

She prepared a lunch that led to the deaths of three of her family members, Heather Wilkinson, and Patterson's former in-laws Gail and Don Patterson.

Ms Wilkinson's husband Ian survived after spending two months in hospital after falling critically ill.

She has been charged with three counts of murder and five counts of attempted murder.

Heather Wilkinson (left) died after the fatal family meal in Leongatha on July 29. Her husband Ian WIlkinson (right) was the sole survivor
Heather Wilkinson (left) died after the fatal family meal in Leongatha on July 29. Her husband Ian WIlkinson (right) was the sole survivor. Picture: Facebook

Police said in a statement: “The murder charges and two attempted murder charges relate to an incident on 29 July where four people were taken to hospital after they fell ill following a meal at a private residence in Leongatha.

"The further three attempted murder charges relate to three separate incidents in Victoria between 2021-2022.

"It's alleged a 48-year-old Korumburra man became ill following meals on these dates."

She was previously questioned and released without charge by detectives in August.

Don and Gail Patterson died after eating the beef wellington
Don and Gail Patterson died after eating the beef wellington. Picture: Social Media

Specialist detectives are now combing through Ms Patterson's possessions at her home, months after the family lunch which took place on July 29.

Speaking after the lunch, Patterson pleaded her innocence.

"I am now devastated to think that these mushrooms may have contributed to the illness suffered by my loved ones," she said.

"I really want to repeat that I had absolutely no reason to hurt these people whom I loved."

After the arrest, Victoria Police said: “Homicide Squad detectives have arrested a woman this morning as part of their investigation into the deaths of three people following an incident in Leongatha earlier this year,' a statement said.

"Four people were taken to hospital on July 30 after they became ill following a meal at a private residence in Leongatha the previous day.

"Two Korumburra women, aged 66 and 70, passed away in hospital on August 4. A third person, a 70-year-old Korumburra man, passed away in hospital on August 5.

"A 69-year-old Korumburra man was released from hospital on September 23.

"A 49-year-old Leongatha woman was arrested at her home address shortly after 8am on November 2.

"A search warrant has been executed at the Gibson Street address, with assistance from the AFP's technology detector dogs.

"The woman will now be interviewed by police and the investigation remains ongoing."

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