Australian Woman Charged with Murder for Allegedly Serving Poisonous Mushrooms to Ex-Husband's Family

Erin Patterson, a 49-year-old Australian woman, is accused of serving poisonous mushrooms to her ex-husband's family, resulting in 3 deaths and 5 attempted murders. She maintains her innocence and wants her case heard in her local community.

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Geeta Pillai
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Australian Woman Charged with Murder for Allegedly Serving Poisonous Mushrooms to Ex-Husband's Family

Australian Woman Charged with Murder for Allegedly Serving Poisonous Mushrooms to Ex-Husband's Family

Erin Patterson, a 49-year-old Australian woman, has been charged with three counts of murder and five counts of attempted murder for allegedly serving poisonous mushrooms to her ex-husband's family in July 2023. The incident resulted in the deaths of her former parents-in-law, Don and Gail Patterson, both 70, and Gail's sister, Heather Wilkinson, 66, who all died in the hospital days after consuming a meal at Patterson's home in Leongatha, South Gippsland.

Patterson is also accused of attempting to murder her ex-husband, Simon Patterson, and Heather Wilkinson's husband, Ian, 68, on multiple occasions. The symptoms of the four sickened family members were consistent with poisoning from wild Amanita phalloides, known as death cap mushrooms.

Why this matters: This case has shocked the small farming community of Leongatha and raised concerns about the potential dangers of consuming wild mushrooms. The alleged murders and attempted murders have also highlighted the importance of food safety and the need for caution when preparing meals for others.

Patterson appeared in the Latrobe Valley Magistrates Court on April 22, 2024, via video link from prison, where she has been held since her arrest in November 2023. Her lawyer, Colin Mandy SC, requested that the committal hearing be held in Morwell, near her home, even if it means a delay until next year. The magistrate expressed concerns about the lengthy delay, but the defense argued that it was a matter of principle for the hearing to take place in Patterson's local community.

The case has been adjourned to May 7, when the magistrate will decide whether to move the committal hearing to the Melbourne Magistrates Court or fast-track it to the Supreme Court. The potential maximum sentence for murder is life imprisonment, and for attempted murder is 25 years in prison.

Patterson has maintained her innocence and is determined to have her case heard in the local Latrobe Valley Magistrates' Court, rather than in Melbourne, to be in front of her local community. "I'm content to spend more than a year behind bars on remand to have my committal hearing in my local community," Patterson told the court.

Key Takeaways

  • Erin Patterson charged with 3 murders, 5 attempted murders for poisoning family
  • Victims died after consuming meal with death cap mushrooms at Patterson's home
  • Patterson maintains innocence, wants committal hearing in local court, not Melbourne
  • Magistrate concerned about lengthy delay, will decide on hearing location on May 7
  • Murder carries life sentence, attempted murder up to 25 years in prison