Wednesday, 19 Jun 2024

Man 'was invited to ex-wife's toxic mushroom lunch' that left three people dead

A woman who hosted a ‘mushroom lunch’ where three guests went on to die, also invited her ex-husband, it’s been claimed.

Erin Patterson, 48, asked the father of her children, Simon Patterson, to join them for the get-together at the home they previously shared in Victoria, Australia, according to a source.

‘Simon was supposed to go to the lunch but couldn’t make it at the last minute,’ Simon’s friend told Daily Mail Australia.

Mr Patterson had recently recovered from a mystery stomach illness that left him in intensive care and needing months of rehabilitation.

Simon’s parents Gail and Don Patterson, both aged 70, and Gail’s sister, Heather Wilkinson, 66, did attend the gathering on July 29, before falling ill and dying in hospital days later.

Heather’s husband Ian, 68, also became sick and is in a critical condition.

All four suffered symptoms consistent with consuming death cap mushrooms, a dull green fungus called Amanita phalloides that can cause serious organ failure within 24 to 48 hours.

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There were two children, believed to be the Patterson’s, at the lunch but they are not thought to have eaten the same food as those who became ill.

Homicide detectives investigating the case have interviewed Ms Patterson, who they say cooked the meal but didn’t become ill herself.

Police released her without filing any charges but said she remains a suspect.

Detective Inspector Dean Thomas said it would take some time to determine what happened and investigators were keeping an open mind.

‘It could be very innocent but, again, we just don’t know,’ DI Thomas said.

Ms Patterson told reporters outside her home in the town of Leongatha that she didn’t know what had happened.

‘I didn’t do anything,’ she told Network Nine on Monday. ‘I loved them and I’m devastated they’re gone.’

She refused to answer questions about the food she had served to her guests or where the mushrooms came from.

A neighbour of Mr Patterson’s parents told Daily Mail Australia their son had been living with them after splitting with Ms Patterson, but moved out late last year.

He described the parents as very active and kind people who would probably have kept in contact with Ms Patterson, and may have gone to the lunch so they could see their grandkids.

Yesterday it emerged Mr Patterson had spent 21 days in intensive care after collapsing at his home in May 2022. 

Writing on social media last year, he said: ‘I collapsed at home then was in an induced coma for 16 days through which I had three emergency operations mainly on my small intestine, plus an additional planned operation,’ he wrote.

‘My family were asked to come and say goodbye to me twice as I was not expected to live.

‘I was in intensive care for 21 days, after which I was in the general ward for a week, and now I’m at a rehab place.’

The neighbour, who did not want to be named, said Mr Patterson had been staying with his parents while recovering from that illness. 

‘After his illness, there might have been a separation,’ he said. ‘We don’t know why they split up. They were a very private family.’

Detectives searched Ms Patterson’s home on Saturday and took several items.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported police were also conducting forensic tests on a food dehydrator they had found at a nearby landfill to see if it was linked to the case.

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