Sunday, 14 Jul 2024

Stunning twist in poison mushroom case as cook admits: 'I lied'

The Australian woman accused of poisoning her relatives with a tainted beef wellington lunch has admitted lying to police about the meal.

Distraught Erin Patterson, 48, has written a detailed police statement and revealed her ex-husband Simon accused her of poisoning his parents.

She invited her former parents-in-law Gail and Don Patterson, along with Gail’s sister Heather Wilkinson and her husband Ian, for lunch at her Leongatha home, in Victoria’s Gippsland region, on July 29.

Within days, three of her four guests had died, Daily Mail Australia reports. It’s feared they may have eaten death cap mushrooms, which are among the most poisonous in the world.

Surviving guest, Ian Wilkinson, remains in critical condition in hospital.

Erin, who briefly ‘went missing’ last week, has now given her first detailed account of the meal in a written statement submitted to Victoria Police.

She revealed she also became unwell after eating the meal, and while in hospital her ex-husband Simon Patterson accused her of poisoning his parents.

She said she was ‘discussing the food dehydrator’ when her ex-husband asked: ‘Is that what you used to poison them?’

Food dehydrators are used to dry out mushrooms before using them in beef wellingtons.

Erin also admitted to lying to police about how recently she disposed of the dehydrator – which police have since found and seized from a nearby tip. At first she told officers she’d dumped it ‘a long time ago’.

She said she served the meal before inviting guests to choose their own plates, before taking the last plate and helping herself to a serving.

The next day, her two children also ate the meal, but the mushrooms were scraped off first as they do not like them. The children weren’t present at the deadly meal, as originally claimed, and they were in fact at the cinema at the time.

Erin said she was then hospitalised with bad stomach pains and diarrhoea, and was put on a saline drip and given a ‘liver protective drug’.

She was transported by ambulance from Leongatha Hospital to Monash Medical Centre in Melbourne.

What was left of the meal was preserved and given to hospital toxicologists for examination after Erin was contacted by Department of Health officials as the conditions of her guests worsened in hospital.

Erin told police that the mushrooms were a mixture of button mushrooms bought from a supermarket and dried mushrooms bought from an Asian supermarket in Melbourne months earlier. 

The leaked police statement is the first time Erin has spoken at length about the tragedy. 

‘I now very much regret not answering some questions, given the nightmare that this process has become,’ she said. 

‘I am now wanting to clear up the record because I have become extremely stressed and overwhelmed by the deaths of my loved ones.

‘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 judgement.

‘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.’

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