The lunch that left three people dead and another fighting for his life after suspected mushroom poisoning was reportedly held as part of a bid for reconciliation, as the suspected deadly dish is finally revealed.
Erin Patterson, 48, cooked a beef wellington pie for lunch at her home in Leongatha, two hours’ south-east of Melbourne, on July 29.
Ms Patterson had invited her ex-husband Simon’s parents Gail and Don Patterson, his aunt Heather Wilkinson and her pastor husband Ian to her home in an effort to try and negotiate a reconciliation with her ex, according to the Daily Mail.
Simon was also invited but pulled out at the last minute, a close friend of Simon’s told the publication.
“They went to her house for a mediation to talk to the family. Simon was supposed to go there for lunch but he pulled out in the last minute otherwise he would be in that death bed too,” the friend said, adding that Simon was not interested in getting back with the mother of his children.
Gail, Don and Heather all died after being served lunch by Ms Patterson, which police suspect included death cap mushrooms.
Heather’s husband Ian is gravely ill and needs a liver transplant.
Neither Ms Patterson nor the two children she shares with Simon became ill after the lunch. She has denied any wrongdoing and police have cautioned that the incident could be “very innocent”.
Do you know more? firstname.lastname@example.org
The friend told the Daily Mail that Simon’s family was worried about Ms Patterson’s “mental state” so they accepted the lunch invitation to “make sure she was in the right mental health to resume a relationship with Simon”.
“This wasn’t just a lunch, it was an intervention with the pastor as mediator. That’s why this lunch happened,” the friend said.
Police in Victoria found a dehydrator at a local tip which is being forensically analysed to see if it is related to the deaths.
On the weekend, Ms Patterson was interviewed by police while her home was searched.
According to 7News, she initially told police during her interview that she picked up the mushrooms from a local shop in the Leongatha area.
Death cap mushroom poisonings are usually because they have been picked wild with them looking similar to some edible mushrooms.
But in the past there have been claims that the toxic fungus has been found in shops.
In 2014, Woolworths was accused of selling the mushrooms accidentally at a Canberra store after a woman fell ill.
She had to have a liver transplant and was in a coma for a week after ingesting the death caps. The woman was insistent the mushrooms could only have been purchased from the supermarket chain.
It was a claim vociferously denied by Woolworths.
Health officials in the ACT cleared Woolworths after an investigation and said it was more likely the death caps had been picked from the ground after heavy rain in Canberra.
They can be found wild across many parts of Australia.
Talking to the media outside her home earlier in the week, Ms Patterson maintained her innocence saying that she “loved” her in-laws with Gail being like a mother to her.
She didn’t answer any questions on whether and what mushrooms were served at the meal and if she also consumed them.
It hasn’t been definitively established by police that death caps were consumed by the victims.
It has also emerged that the estranged husband of a woman who hosted a lunch that left three people dead of suspected mushroom poisoning pulled out of the event at the “last minute”.
“Simon was supposed to go to the lunch but couldn’t make it at the last minute,” a friend of Simon told Daily Mail Australia on Wednesday.
In a social media post, Mr Patterson revealed he almost died as a result of the mystery illness.
“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.”
Mr Patterson said the “serious gut problems” had seemed to be fixed but one shoulder remained weak.
In the social media post he thanks Ms Patterson for her support. The pair are now separated but remain “amicable”.
Death cap mushrooms can be responsible for serious, fatal, damage to the liver and kidneys. They can cause abdominal pain, vomiting and nausea but much of the damage can be done before symptoms occur.