One of Victoria’s top cops has expressed concerns over the untimely and “unhelpful” release of information regarding a mushroom meal believed to have killed three people.
On Monday Erin Patterson provided police with a comprehensive statement through her lawyer, which made its way to the press, addressing the incident and clarifying her position.
Now the premature circulation of her statement to media outlets has been criticised as “unhelpful” to the ongoing police inquiry.
Ms Patterson’s detailed account, delivered through her lawyer, shed light on various aspects of the ill-fated meal, which is believed to have resulted in the deaths of Don and Gail Patterson, her former in-laws, as well as Gail’s sister, Heather Wilkinson.
The statement, handed over to law enforcement officials on Monday, confirmed that Ms Patterson fell ill after consuming the same meal, experiencing severe stomach pains and diarrhoea.
It’s suspected deadly death cap mushrooms were ingested.
Deputy Commissioner Wendy Steendam today emphasised that sharing Ms Patterson’s statement with the media was counter-productive to the police investigation.
“What I would say is that anything that’s in the media … working on an investigation through the media is unhelpful to our investigation,” she stated firmly during an interview on ABC radio.
“Working on an investigation through the media is unhelpful to our investigation.”
Commissioner Steendam clarified that Ms Patterson’s statement was not an official police declaration, reinforcing the need for the investigative process to go ahead without undue influence.
She added that the investigation into the tragic incident was proceeding with utmost care and thoroughness, cautioning against expectations of swift resolutions.
“It’s not going to be quick,” she affirmed, underlining the case’s complexity.
Ms Patterson’s statement unveiled crucial details about the preparation of the fatal meal.
According to the statement, dried mushrooms purchased from an Asian grocer in Mount Waverley were used in cooking the beef wellington. The statement also confirmed the incorporation of locally sourced fresh mushrooms in the dish’s preparation.
While the police interviewed Ms Patterson, she was later released without charges.
Her statement staunchly denied any intentional harm or wrongdoing, with Ms Patterson expressing her profound distress over the tragic loss of her loved ones.
“I am now wanting to clear up the record because I have become extremely stressed and overwhelmed by the deaths of my loved ones,” she disclosed.
“I am hoping this statement might help in some way. I believe if people understood the background more, they would not be so quick to rush to Judgement.”
Notably, Ms Patterson clarified that her children were absent during the lunch in question, having opted to attend a movie instead.
Ms Patterson did acknowledge that her children consumed the leftover beef Wellington the following night, albeit with the mushrooms scraped off.
Investigations into the three deaths are continuing.