Mushroom cook behind beef wellington that poisoned four relatives was 'an expert wild forager'

15 August 2023, 17:10 | Updated: 16 August 2023, 09:30

Erin Patterson (l), Simon Patterson (top r) and Ian and Heather Wilkinson (bottom r)
Erin Patterson (l), Simon Patterson (top r) and Ian and Heather Wilkinson (bottom r). Picture: social media

By StephenRigley

The cook who made the behind the beef wellington that poisoned four of her relatives was an experienced fungi forager, a source close to the family has said.

Erin Patterson, 48, was known to pick wild mushrooms around Victoria's Gippsland region, Daily Mail Australia has revealed.

A friend said: "The Patterson family (including Erin and Simon) would pick mushrooms each year when they were in season.

"It’s very common for people to go mushroom picking around that area."

Earlier it emerged that the only survivor of a poison mushroom lunch that killed three people - including his wife - could pull through and reveal what really happened.

Ian Wilkinson was the only person to survive eating the poisoned beef wellington in Leongatha, Australia on July 29.

She hosted the lunch attended by her former in-laws, Gail and Don Patterson, and Gail’s sister Heather Wilkinson, and her husband Ian.

Erin's ex-husband Simon Patterson was expected to attend the lunch as well but pulled out at the last minute.

After eating the meal, her guests became violently ill. Gail, 70, Heather, 66, and Don, 70 all died.

Ian, 68, is being treated at the Austin Hospital in Melbourne with traumatic injuries to his liver. He is reportedly awaiting a liver transplant and is in critical condition - but sources say he will ‘likely survive’ after being taken to the hospital which specialises in treating poisoning victims.

Read more: Woman at centre of 'poisonous' mushroom deaths admits lying to police about dumping kitchen gadget

Read more: 'This is not Midsomer Murders': Local mayor calls for privacy after Erin Patterson’s deadly mushroom lunch

Erin Patterson  is alleged to have served relatives a poisonous mushroom lunch
Erin Patterson is alleged to have served relatives a poisonous mushroom lunch. Picture: Social Media
Simon Patterson
Simon Patterson. Picture: social media

A source told Daily Mail Australia that he was not taken to the Alfred hospital - a decision that likely saved his life.

“The main intensive care unit, and you need the best, you go to The Alfred or Royal Melbourne. The state's poison centre is at the Austin, so that's why he's gone there,” the source said.

Transplant organs are not generally supplied unless they are certain the patient will wake up, the source added.

“You don't want to waste one. You're not going to give one to someone who is odds-on not to make it,” he said. 

Ian and Heather Wilkinson
Ian and Heather Wilkinson. Picture: Social Media

Erin Patterson has given a long written statement to police - describing how she also became unwell after eating the meal, with her ex-husband, Simon Patterson accusing her of poisoning his parents.

Simon was expected to attend the lunch, but pulled out at the last minute .

Police are examining CCTV from a landfill site as they search for a food dehydrator, which Erin Patterson admitted dumping at a landfill site after her guests fell ill.

In her statement to police, she said she served the email and invited guests to choose their own plates. She took the last serving and ate the meal too.

Her children at the meal the next day but said they scraped the mushrooms off first as they do not like them.

The remainder of the meal has been preserved and was given to hospital toxicologists for examination.

She told police that the mushrooms were a mixture of button mushrooms bought from a supermarket and dried mushrooms bought from an Asian supermarket.

“I now very much regret not answering some questions ... given the nightmare that this process has become,” the statement adds.

“I am now wanting to clear up the record because I have become extremely stressed and overwhelmed by the deaths of my loved ones.

“I am hoping this statement might help in some way. I believe if people understood the background more, they would not be so quick to rush to judgement.

“I am now devastated to think that these mushrooms may have contributed to the illness suffered by my loved ones. I really want to repeat that I had absolutely no reason to hurt these people whom I loved.”