Forensic psychologist shares major update on deadly 'poison' mushroom lunch

A forensic psychologist has said there are potential ‘red flags’ everywhere in the case of three people who died from suspected mushroom poisoning.

Erin Patterson, 48, had cooked a beef wellington lunch at her home in Leongatha, in Victoria’s Gippsland region on July 29, that allegedly contained death cap mushrooms.

Ms Patterson’s parents-in-law Don and Gail Patterson, both 70, died after eating the lunch, as did Gail’s sister Heather Wilkinson, 66, days later in hospital.

Heather’s husband Ian Wilkinson, 68, has been left in a critical condition.

Ms Patterson’s estranged Simon Patterson was initially invited to the lunch but pulled out at the last minute.

While police have only said Ms Patterson is a person of interest, nor is there any intention to suggest that Erin tried to poison Simon, nor it is suggested she intentionally poisoned her in-laws or was responsible for her husband’s three relatives’ deaths, experienced psychologist Tim Watson-Munro says there are potential ‘red flags’ he believes need to be investigated.

He told the Australian ‘I’m not a big believer in coincidences’ before listing a number of issues.

Mr Watson-Munro, who has assessed some of Australia’s biggest criminal offenders is concerned about key aspects of the death cap mushrooms case.

The first ‘red flag’ comes in the fact that Ms Patterson’s former husband almost died twice last year from gastric-related complications.

Also, according to Ms Patterson’s own police statement, she has in turn questioned whether she poisoned his parents and aunt, it was reported.

Mr Watson-Munro said: ‘Obviously he was either wilfully poisoned or it was just bad luck.’

He says the story of where Ms Patterson says she secured the mushrooms – including at an unnamed Asian supermarket – sounds ‘ludicrous’ because death cap mushrooms are not commercial products: ‘People just don’t retail them. It’s not that loose.’

Mr Watson-Munro also feels it is ‘weird’’ the children were out of the house during the ill-fated lunch.

Mr Watson-Munro says police would be looking for points of weakness and the slow, steady approach would be tactical. He said: ‘It is a fascinating case. Everyone is talking about it.’

Ms Patterson’s ex-husband spent 21 days in intensive care after collapsing from a mystery stomach illness at his home in May last year.

A police statement by Ms Patterson was reportedly leaked to the media, revealing she became unwell after eating the meal.

She admitted that she then dumped a dehydrator she used to prepare the meal at a nearby tip soon after because she was in a panic.

Ms Patterson admitted lying to police about how long ago she disposed of the food dehydrator.

She initially told them she dumped it there a ‘long time ago’ but it was claimed in a statement from Ms Patterson that she did so after her guests fell ill.

In her statement, Ms Patterson denied any wrongdoing and did not know how the meal caused three deaths.

She also claims she bought the mushrooms used in the beef wellington from a supermarket and an Asian grocer shop in Melbourne – but couldn’t recall the name.

Daily Mail Australia on Wednesday reported Ms Patterson was an ‘experienced forager’ who – like many families in the area – picked mushrooms when they were in season.

She has denied any wrongdoing. She earlier told The Australian she felt like she’d been painted as an ‘evil witch’.

She said: ‘I can’t have friends over. The media is at the house where my children are at. The media are at my sister’s house so I can’t go there. This is unfair,’ she said.

Police have said the investigation is ongoing.

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