Cook says Australian mushroom deaths were ‘accidental’: ‘I had no reason to hurt people I love’

‘I am now devastated to think that these mushrooms may have contributed to the illness suffered by my loved ones’

Maroosha Muzaffar
Monday 14 August 2023 16:55 BST
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Melbourne minister says locals are in ‘disbelief’ over mushroom poisoning

A woman who cooked a beef Wellington dish which included mushrooms that killed three of her former in-laws and left another in critical condition has claimed the deaths were accidental.

Tragedy struck in Australia last month when Erin Patterson invited her former parents-in-law Gail and Tom Patterson for a meal, along with Gail’s sister Heather Wilkinson and her husband, Ian. Within days of the meal, Gail and Tom, both 70, and Heather, 66, were all dead and Ian, 68, was left fighting for life.

Now Ms Patterson, who does not face any charges, has given a detailed account of the sequence of events to the authorities, according to local media reports.

Erin Patterson claims the deaths were a tragic accident

In her statement, Ms Patterson claimed that she didn’t know the mushrooms were poisonous when she prepared the meal in Leongatha, South Gippsland last month. Ms Patterson’s former partner, Simon, had been invited to the meal but was unable to attend.

“I am now devastated to think that these mushrooms may have contributed to the illness suffered by my loved ones,” the 48-year-old said. “I really want to repeat that I had absolutely no reason to hurt these people whom I loved.”

“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 continued. “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.”

Victoria Police said the four casualties fell ill and were admitted to the hospital on 30 July after sharing the meal the day before.

Speaking about the bizarre case last week, homicide squad detective inspector Dean Thomas said the deaths were “unexplained”.

Reverend Ian Wilkinson remains critically ill in hospital following the death of wife Heather (both pictured) in the suspected mushroom poisoning

Inspector Thomas said two children were present at the scene but “they did not receive any injuries or symptoms” as police believe they may have consumed a different meal to the others.

Ms Patterson, who did not fall ill either, finally broke her silence on Monday as she broke down in front of her home over the loss of “some of the best people I’ve ever met”.

“The loss to the community and to the families and my own children who have lost their grandmother… I just can’t fathom what has happened,” she said. “I’m so sorry that they have lost their lives. I just can’t believe it.”

Ms Patterson said she had no reason to hurt any of her former family members

The mushrooms in question were a combination of button mushrooms purchased from a supermarket and dried mushrooms sourced from an unspecified Asian grocery store in Melbourne.

ABC News reported that while Ms Patterson has informed health authorities about the origins of the mushrooms, she was unable to provide the exact name or location of the specific store.

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