A woman in Australia who hosted a lunch where four people fell ill, three of whom have since died, has fled her home and refused to reveal what she served in their final meal. Erin Patterson served a dish that included poisonous mushrooms to her guests, resulting in their deaths. Patterson, who was apparently unharmed by the food, has been confronted by the media but provided few answers. She has denied any wrongdoing and no charges have been laid at this stage of the investigation. By Wayne Flower, Melbourne Correspondent Tita Smith For Daily Mail Australia reported
The woman who hosted a lunch where four people became ill – three of whom have tragically died – has left her residence after refusing to disclose the ingredients of the fatal meal. Erin Patterson, a 48-year-old stay-at-home mother, invited her former in-laws, Gail and Don Patterson, as well as Gail’s sister, Heather Wilkinson, and her husband Ian, for lunch at her home in Leongatha, Victoria on July 29. It has been reported that the dish served by Patterson contained poisonous mushrooms, resulting in the deaths of the Pattersons and Ms. Wilkinson, while Mr. Wilkinson is currently fighting for his life in the hospital. Patterson herself appears to have been unaffected by the food, if she consumed any at all. Upon returning to her property, Patterson was met with a swarm of media personnel seeking answers. She provided limited details, instructing reporters to leave her property and expressing her devastation at the tragic events. Patterson refused to divulge what she had served her guests and expressed frustration towards the media’s presence. Frustrated by the situation, Patterson loaded a suitcase into her car and departed her home. All four guests fell ill after consuming the meal and were admitted to the hospital the following day. The Pattersons and Ms. Wilkinson have since passed away, while Mr. Wilkinson remains in critical condition. Although Patterson has been identified as a person of interest in the investigation, no charges have been filed at this stage. Criminal lawyer George Balot has stated that a host or cook has a duty of care to ensure that the food served does not cause harm. To establish criminal negligence, the prosecution would need to demonstrate that Patterson breached this duty by serving poisonous mushrooms. Furthermore, they would need to prove that the breach caused the victims’ deaths and that Patterson’s actions were deliberate. However, if the incident resulted from an unintentional mistake, Patterson is unlikely to face charges. While the investigation continues, Patterson’s estranged husband, Simon, is residing at a separate address. The police have described the couple’s relationship as amicable prior to the deaths of his parents. Homicide detectives searched Patterson’s property and seized several items, including a dehydrator believed to have been used to prepare the mushrooms. Patterson was questioned by the police and subsequently released. The police have classified the deaths as “unexplained” rather than suspicious, but are still investigating. The community has been deeply affected by the tragedy, with flowers left at the gate of the property as a sign of mourning. Patterson has expressed her devastation and denied any wrongdoing, emphasizing the kindness and goodness of the deceased individuals. Detectives suspect that death cap mushrooms are responsible for the poisonings and are working to determine how they ended up in the meal. Patterson’s children were also present at the lunch but did not consume the same food as the adults and did not experience any illness. As a precaution, Patterson and the children went to the hospital when the others fell ill. However, the children have been removed from Patterson’s care while the investigation continues..