Erin Patterson, 49, faced the Latrobe Valley Magistrates’ Court at 10 a.m. on Friday after being taken into custody following a police raid on her residence the previous day. Patterson is charged with the murder of three individuals and the attempted murder of five others.
The prosecution alleges that Patterson served a meal containing lethal death-cap mushrooms at her home in Leongatha on July 29, resulting in the demise of her former husband’s parents and his aunt. Additionally, court documents reveal accusations of Patterson attempting to murder her ex-husband, Simon Patterson, 48, on four occasions over three years.
Patterson, dressed in a gray sweater and escorted by security, entered the courtroom, where her appearance was described as disheveled. In a brief exchange, she acknowledged the magistrate with a subdued greeting. The prosecution sought a 20-week adjournment to examine computer equipment recently seized, a request that Magistrate Tim Walsh initially challenged but ultimately granted.
Defense counsel Ben Doogue indicated the complexity of the case, suggesting a lengthy legal process ahead. As bail could not be granted at the magistrate level, Patterson was remanded in custody until her next court appearance in May. She is expected to be transferred to a remand facility later in the day.
During the court proceedings, Patterson’s response remained mostly impassive, with a momentary jaw tremble as she sat down. Earlier, her lawyer Doogue had expressed readiness to proceed with the case.
Outside the courtroom, Mr. Doogue remained reticent when approached for a statement, remarking on the early stage of the case.
The allegations against Patterson include serving a beef wellington dish purportedly laced with deadly mushrooms to several guests, including her in-laws and their sister, who subsequently died from symptoms consistent with mushroom poisoning. One other individual, Ian Wilkinson, survived after extensive hospital treatment but is still recuperating from serious afflictions.
The police statement on Thursday detailed three separate incidents across Victoria between 2021 and 2022 for the attempted murder charges, believed to involve Patterson’s ex-husband.
During the investigation, Australian Federal Police technology dogs assisted in searching Patterson’s home, leading to the seizure of various electronic devices.
Despite the charges and ongoing investigation, Patterson has vocally denied her involvement in the deaths. In a previous statement to The Australian, she expressed her grief over the loss of her in-laws and the hardship faced due to public scrutiny.
Detective Inspector Dean Thomas of the Homicide Squad acknowledged the significant impact of the incident on the tight-knit communities of Leongatha and Korumburra. He emphasized the extensive efforts of the detectives in this high-profile case, which has drawn attention locally, nationally, and internationally. Remarking on the gravity of the situation, Inspector Thomas underscored the communal loss of three beloved individuals and extended his considerations to the bereaved families.
As the case unfolds, Patterson remains in custody, with her return to court scheduled for May.