Ex-husband of woman accused of killing three former relatives with poisonous mushrooms 'skipped family lunch'

9 August 2023, 10:40 | Updated: 16 August 2023, 09:32

Sobbing Erin Patterson (main) when quizzed by local tv about the deaths. Simon Patterson (top r)  Ian Wilkinson and Heather Wilkinson (bottom right)
Sobbing Erin Patterson (main) when quizzed by local tv about the deaths. Simon Patterson (top r) Ian Wilkinson and Heather Wilkinson (bottom right). Picture: social media

By StephenRigley

The ex-husband of a woman at the centre of an alleged poisonous lunch in Australia was invited but skipped the deadly get-together at the last minute, it has been claimed.

Erin Patterson is said to have invited her estranged former partner Simon Patterson to their family home for the meal with his parents Gail and Tom Patterson, along with Gail’s sister Heather Wilkinson and her husband Ian.

All four guests fell ill after the meal at Erin's home in Leongatha, in Victoria's Gippsland region.on July 29, before being admitted to hospital the following day.

Their conditions worsened before the two sisters, aged 66 and 70, died on Friday.

Don, 70, died on Saturday. Meanwhile Ian, 68, remains fighting for his life and waiting for a liver transplant.

But Simon Patterson is reported to have recently recovered from a mystery stomach illness that left him fighting for his life.

A friend of Simon’s told MailOnline: “Simon was supposed to go to the lunch but couldn’t make it at the last minute.”

Mushroom poisoning mother speaks out (Watch)

Erin Patterson
Erin Patterson. Picture: social media
Simon Patterson
Simon Patterson. Picture: social media
Ian and Heather Wilkinson
Ian and Heather Wilkinson. Picture: social media

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Police have launched an investigation and say the victim's symptoms were consistent with those caused by death cap mushrooms.

Officials have warned about two types of poisonous mushrooms that grow in Victoria during the cooler months.

Erin has denied any wrongdoing.

Yesterday she sobbed in front of local tv cameras saying: "I loved them and I'm devastated that they're gone.

"Gail was like the mum I didn't have because my mum passed away four years ago and Gail had never been anything but good and kind to me.

"Ian and Heather were some of the best people I'd ever met. They never did anything wrong to me."

Homicide detectives have said Erin is a person of interest since she cooked the meal and did not have symptoms of poisoning.

Erin was previously married to Don and Gail's son, Simon, and had been living at the Leongatha property for the past 12 months.

Her two children were also present at the lunch but reportedly ate different meals to the adults and did not fall ill.

They were taken to hospital as a precaution and have been removed from their mother's care.

Detectives from the homicide squad questioned Erin when they searched the property on Saturday, and she was reportedly heard 'wailing' after cops visited the home at the weekend, according to Seven News.

Victoria Police Detective Inspector Dean Thomas said: "She hasn't presented with any symptoms but we have to keep an open mind in relation to this, that it could be very innocent but again we just don't know at this point."

The deaths are currently being treated as "unexplained".

He added: "We've seized a number of exhibits in relation to the matter, a lot of the items we have seized will be forensically tested in the hope that they can shed some light on what's occurred.

"We will be working closely with medical experts, toxicologists ... in the hope we can understand exactly what has gone on and provide some answers to the family.

"We're trying to understand who ate what at the lunch, whether that person that did not become ill did or did not eat the mushrooms... And of course, we're trying to ascertain what it is that has actually caused the poisoning ... to the four people that attended."

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