Ex-husband of woman accused of killing three people with toxic mushrooms claims she tried to poison him


Ex-husband of woman accused of killing three people with toxic mushrooms claims she tried to poison him

The ex-husband of a woman who served a lunch that proved fatal to three people has claimed she tried to poison him.

Erin Patterson, 48, was the only one who did not get sick after eating the meal at her home in Leongatha in Victoria, southeast Australia, on Saturday 29 July.

Her former spouse, Simon Paterson, who nearly died from an unknown gut malady last year, has now revealed he “suspects” she was trying to poison him

“Simon suspected he had been poisoned by Erin,” a source close to the family told the Herald Sun.

“There were times he had felt… a bit off and it often coincided when he spent time with her.”

In a social media post from last year Mr Paterson wrote: “I collapsed at home, then was in an induced coma for 16 days through which I had three emergency operations mainly on my small intestine, plus an additional planned operation,” he wrote.

“My family were asked to come and say goodbye to me twice, as I was not expected to live.”

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The former couple are now separated but their split was described as “amicable”.

Mrs Paterson’s former in-laws Don and Gail Patterson, both 70, were among those who ate the meal which allegedly contained the poisonous fungi.

Gail Patterson’s sister Heather Wilkinson, 66, and her husband Reverend Ian Wilkinson, 68, were also at the table.

Ex-husband of woman accused of killing three people with toxic mushrooms claims she tried to poison him

All four felt unwell by midnight that evening before Mrs Patterson and Mrs Wilkinson died nearly a week later on Friday 4 August.

Don Patterson died the next day.

Reverend Wilkinson, a pastor at Korumburra Baptist Church, is still fighting for his life in hospital.

Erin Patterson’s two children were also at the lunch but were given a different meal from the others.

They have reportedly been taken into state care as a “precaution”.

What makes death cap mushrooms so lethal?

The death cap is one of the most toxic mushrooms on the planet and is involved in the majority of fatal mushroom poisonings worldwide.

The species contains three main groups of toxins: amatoxins, phallotoxins, and virotoxins.

From these, amatoxins are primarily responsible for the toxic effects in humans.

The alpha-amanitin amatoxin has been found to cause protein deficit and ultimately cell death, although other mechanisms are thought to be involved.

The liver is the main organ that fails due to the poison, but other organs are also affected, most notably the kidneys.

The effects usually begin after a short latent period and include gastrointestinal disorders followed by jaundice, seizures, coma, and, eventually, death.

The case has gripped Australia after police opened a homicide investigation and confirmed Mrs Patterson is a suspect.

It is suspected the four people were served mushrooms known as death caps – which are responsible for 90% of all toxic mushroom-related fatalities.

Speaking outside her home on Monday, Mrs Patterson broke down in tears over the loss of “some of the best people I’ve ever met”.

“The loss to the community and to the families and my own children who have lost their grandmother… I just can’t fathom what has happened,” she said.

“I’m so sorry that they have lost their lives. I just can’t believe it.”

Mrs Patterson did not answer questions from reporters about the meal she cooked or where the mushrooms came from.

However, she denied any wrongdoing when she was reminded she was a suspect in the investigations.

“I didn’t do anything, I love them and I’m devastated they are gone,” she said.

Police have said the fact Mrs Patterson is being investigated doesn’t mean the deaths weren’t a tragic accident.

Detective Inspector Dean Thomas said: “I’m not aware of an investigation where we’ve had three people die as a result of an apparent food poisoning, whether that be by a mushroom or something else – so yes, it is quite unique.

“(Mrs Patterson) has not presented with any symptoms. So again, that forms part of our investigation whether she did or didn’t eat any of the mushrooms or anything else that may have been eaten on that particular day.”


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