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Sole survivor of mushroom poisoning 'wakes up to tell police what really happened at lunch that killed three'
25 September 2023, 07:33 | Updated: 25 September 2023, 09:55
The only survivor of a beef wellington lunch that is thought to have contained deadly mushrooms is well enough to tell detectives what happened at the meal that claimed the lives of his wife and two family members.
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Ian Wilkinson has been released from hospital nearly two months since the fateful lunch that killed Don and Gail Patterson, as well as his wife, Heather Wilkinson in rural Australia.
Erin Patterson, who has denied any wrongdoing and has not been charged, cooked the meal at her home in Leongatha, in the state of Victoria.
She said she also had some of the meal. Ms Patterson's estranged husband Simon - the son of Don and Gail - was meant to go to the same lunch but had to pull out at the last minute.
Doctors feared that Mr Wilkinson would not survive because of the damage to his kidneys and liver that the mushrooms caused.
Mr Wilkinson is a pastor at a church, and his parishioners gave thanks for his "miracle" recovery on Sunday.
His family thanked well-wishers who had been a "pillar of strength", they said. They added that his homecoming was "a moment of immense relief and gratitude".
It is suspected the beef wellington, which was served up at Erin Patterson's home in Leongatha, Victoria, on July 29, contained the highly toxic death cap mushroom, while Erin said she bought mushrooms from a supermarket and Asian store.
Homicide cops are still investigating what happened. Erin Patterson is being treated as a person of interest but it has not been suggested the poisoning was deliberate.
"I am now devastated to think that these mushrooms may have contributed to the illness suffered by my loved ones," she said in a past statement.
"I really want to repeat that I had absolutely no reason to hurt these people whom I loved."
Simon Patterson told more than 300 mourners at a service for his parents that Gail posted to a family group chat in her final text, as she lay dying in hospital: "Lots of love to you all."
He said his parents were "a team, working at life together".
"The fact they died on consecutive days is fitting in some ways, as it reflects their togetherness as a couple that they always worked so hard to grow," he said.
Don, 70, had survived a liver transplant but his body was "too sick" to continue, he said.
Simon told the mourners at Korumburra Recreation Centre, two hours south east of Melbourne: "They acknowledged life's transience and death’s reality as something that is not right about the world and very sad but also knew that death is not final.
"They would always wave goodbye when they parted ways. It was partly because one day would be the last wave."
News.com.au said he went on: "As Mum and Dad lay in comas in the hospital in their final days and each day... we were unsure if they would recover or not, it was comforting to know that when we said 'see you later', we knew it was true.
“The only thing we didn't know was when. In the meantime, we'll miss them."
During the service, they were described as "respected" and "pillars of the community". They died just months short of their 50th wedding anniversary in November.
They travelled to Botswana while in their twenties and after they retired they taught English in China, with one of their former students described them as "real parents".