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Suspected mushroom poisoning: Erin Patterson faces Australian court on murder charges

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    13 hours ago

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Image source, Reuters

An Australian woman charged with murdering three people in a suspected mushroom poisoning case is also accused of trying to murder her ex-partner on four occasions, court documents say.

Erin Patterson, 49, was charged with three counts of murder and five of attempted murder on Thursday.

The murder charges relate to a family lunch she hosted in July at her home in the town of Leongatha, Victoria.

Ms Patterson continues to maintain her innocence.


She appeared briefly in court on Friday, where her case was adjourned until 3 May to give prosecutors time to analyse computer equipment seized from her home during a police search. She did not apply for bail.

About half a dozen TV crews were lined up outside the hearing in the small town of Morwell, about 60km (37 miles) from Leongatha.

But for the cameras and curious locals there was no glimpse of Ms Patterson, who was moved from her overnight police cell into the court building via a connecting tunnel.

In court documents released to local media on Friday, police allege Ms Patterson attempted to kill her estranged husband Simon Patterson three times between November 2021 and September 2022.

The alleged fourth attempt was on the day she served a beef Wellington lunch to his parents Gail and Don Patterson, aunt Heather Wilkinson and her husband Ian Wilkinson. Simon Patterson did not attend the meal.

Erin Patterson has said she made the dish using a mixture of button mushrooms bought from a supermarket, and dried mushrooms purchased at an Asian grocery months earlier.

All four of her guests were later taken to hospital reporting violent illness, police say.

Within days the Patterson couple, both 70, and Ms Wilkinson, 66, had died. Mr Wilkinson, 68, was taken to hospital in a critical condition but later recovered.

Police say they believe the four ate death cap mushrooms – which are highly lethal if ingested.

Ms Patterson was named as a suspect after she and her two children appeared unharmed after the lunch.

But she maintains she never intended to poison her guests and says that she herself was taken to hospital after the meal and given medication to guard against liver damage.

“I am now devastated to think that these mushrooms may have contributed to the illness suffered by my loved ones,” she wrote in a statement in August.

Police have stressed the complexity of the case, describing it as a tragedy that may “reverberate for years to come”.

“I cannot think of another investigation that has generated this level of media and public interest, not only here in Victoria, but also nationally and internationally,” Homicide squad Inspector Dean Thomas said on Thursday.

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