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

14 August 2023, 09:01 | Updated: 16 August 2023, 09:36

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

A mother who is alleged to have served relatives a poisonous mushroom lunch, leaving three dead and one more in a critical condition, says she was hospitalised after eating the fungi herself, but admitted lying to investigators.

Erin Patterson, 48, is a person of interest after three close relatives died after eating a beef wellington she served that included mushrooms.

Ms Patterson has denied any wrongdoing, with the Australian mum-of-two going into 'hiding' after the incident, which took place at her home in Leongatha, in Victoria's Gippsland region, in July.

But she has now broken her silence with a statement originally sent to police.

She claimed that she bought some of the mushrooms at a supermarket and the rest at an Asian food shop, and that she had to go to hospital after eating them herself.

Erin Patterson
Erin Patterson. Picture: social media

"I am now wanting to clear up the record because I have become extremely stressed and overwhelmed by the deaths of my loved ones," she said in the written statement, first obtained by Australian national broadcaster ABC.

"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 judgment.

"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."

Ms Patterson invited her estranged ex-husband Simon 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. Simon dropped out at the last minute.

Ian and Heather Wilkinson
Ian and Heather Wilkinson. Picture: social media

All four guests fell ill after the meal before being admitted to hospital the following day.

Of the guests, Mr Wilkinson is the only one left alive but is in a critical condition. Ms Patterson was also on a drip in hospital, suffering from diarrhoea and stomach pains.

Despite her claims of innocence, Ms Patterson admitted lying to police about a food dehydrator.

Ms Patterson said she panicked and dumped the dehydrator at the tip after her ex Simon asked her if she had used it to poison his parents.

But she told investigators at the time that she had dumped it a long time before.

Ms Patterson also paid tribute to her ex's parents in the statement, saying: "I had been close with Simon's parents for a long period of time. Our relationship had continued in a fairly amicable way after I finished the relationship with their son Simon.

"Our relationship was affected to some degree by seeing them less after my marriage breakdown with Simon however I have never felt differently towards his parents.

"I had a deep love and respect for Simon's parents and had encouraged my children to spend time with their grandparents as I believed they were exceptional role models."

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

Read More: Ex-husband of woman at centre of 'toxic' mushroom lunch 'suspects she may have poisoned him previously'

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

On Tuesday, Erin 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."

Victoria Police Detective Inspector Dean Thomas said that detectives had to "keep an open mind". He added 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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