Woman pleads not guilty over alleged mushroom lunch murders

Erin Patterson (49) charged with murder of three people who allegedly died after eating lunch she prepared

An Australian woman on Tuesday pleaded not guilty to the murder of three elderly people who died after allegedly consuming a lunch she prepared which contained poisonous mushrooms.

Erin Patterson (49) is charged with three counts of murder and five of attempted murder, according to court documents.

Her case will be fast-tracked to the country's Supreme Court after a hearing at a local court on Tuesday, with a trial expected to be held in Melbourne. Patterson is currently being held at a women's prison.

Don Patterson, his wife, Gail, and her sister Heather Wilkinson fell ill and later died after the lunch which was held in the small rural town of Leongatha, around 135km southeast of Melbourne, in July 2023.


At the time, local media reported Don and Gail Patterson were the parents of Erin Patterson's ex-husband Simon Patterson, who was also present at the lunch.

Simon Patterson is listed in court documents as the alleged victim in four of the accounts of attempted murder, including three separate incidents in 2021 and 2022.

A fifth count relates to Wilkinson's husband, Ian, a pastor in a nearby town who spent several weeks in hospital following the lunch.

The case has gripped Australia, where deaths from eating mushrooms are relatively rare, and led to repeat warnings by health authorities to exercise caution when foraging.

The Supreme Court is expected to next hear Patterson’s case on May 23rd. – Reuters