Connect with us


Woman pleads not guilty in Australian mushroom case



Woman pleads not guilty in Australian mushroom case

A woman charged over a fatal mushroom poisoning incident in Australia has pleaded not guilty to murder.

Erin Patterson entered the plea at Latrobe Valley Magistrates Court and was remanded in custody. The case will now go to the Supreme Court of Victoria for trial, with the first hearing later this month.

Victoria Police detectives arrested the 49-year-old in November 2023. She was charged with three counts of murder and five counts of attempted murder.

In July 2023, four people were taken to hospital after becoming ill following a meal at a private home in Leongatha. Two Korumburra women, aged 66 and 70, died on August 4. A 70-year-old Korumburra man died on August 5. A 69-year-old Korumburra man was discharged from hospital on September 23.

It is believed that Don and Gail Patterson and her sister Heather Wilkinson died from symptoms consistent with death cap mushroom poisoning. Ian Wilkinson survived the incident. Erin Patterson is the deceased couple’s daughter-in-law.

Three attempted murder charges relate to separate incidents in Victoria between 2021 and 2022. It is alleged a 48-year-old Korumburra man, her ex-husband Simon Patterson, fell ill after meals during this period.

According to the Victorian Department of Health, eating just one death cap mushroom can kill an adult. Poisonous mushrooms, including death’s caps, appear in Victoria in autumn as the weather becomes wetter and cooler.

Cooking, peeling or drying these mushrooms does not remove the poison. No home test distinguishes safe and edible mushrooms from poisonous ones.

Symptoms of poisoning can include severe abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea and usually occur six to 24 hours after eating the mushrooms. Even if the initial symptoms disappear, serious liver damage may have occurred. If they think they have eaten a poisonous mushroom, people should urgently go to the emergency department and take the remaining mushrooms with them for identification.

(To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.)