'I've been painted as an evil witch': Woman who cooked deadly mushroom lunch says she is mourning her dead relatives

16 August 2023, 10:14

Sobbing Erin Patterson (L) when quizzed by local TV about the deaths after the deaths of close relatives
Sobbing Erin Patterson (L) when quizzed by local TV about the deaths after the deaths of close relatives. Picture: social media

By Kit Heren

The woman who cooked the poisonous mushroom lunch that left three people dead and one in a critical condition hospital has said she has been "painted as an evil witch".

Erin Patterson, 48, hosted the fatal beef wellington lunch in July. Three relatives died afterwards and a fourth remains in a coma. Her ex-husband was expected to attend the lunch as well but pulled out at the last minute.

Ms Patterson has said repeatedly that she did not realise the mushrooms were poisonous, and that she loved the people who died.

It was claimed yesterday that Ms Patterson was known to pick wild mushrooms around Victoria's Gippsland region, where she lives.

Now she has broken her silence again to protest her innocence.

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

"I lost my parents-in-law, my children lost their grandparents," she said. "And I've been painted as an evil witch," she told the Australian. "And the media is making it impossible for me to live in this town.

"I can't have friends over. The media is at the house where my children are at. The media are at my sister's house so I can't go there. This is unfair."

Ms Patterson's former in-laws, Gail and Don Patterson, and Gail’s sister Heather Wilkinson, and her husband Ian, were at the meal on July 29.

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.

Ms Patterson said she also ate the beef wellington, and was severely unwell herself and had to go to hospital.

A friend of the family said yesterday that she was an expert forager, which was usual for people in that area.

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."

Meanwhile a builder who worked on Ms Patterson's former home said there was a wall covered in disturbing graffiti, which included bizarre pictures of gravestones.

The builder told Daily Mail Australia: "It was disturbing. We called it the death wall".

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

Simon Patterson
Simon Patterson. Picture: social media

Earlier it emerged that the only survivor of the lunch 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.

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

Ms Patterson earlier gave 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.”