Erin Patterson faces Australian court on murder charges

An Australian woman accused of murdering her former in-laws and another woman with poisonous mushrooms has faced a court for the first time.

Erin Patterson, 49, was charged with three counts of murder and five of attempted murder on Thursday.

The murder charges relate to a family lunch she hosted at her home in Victoria in July, while three of the five attempted murder charges concern incidents between 2021-22.

Ms Patterson maintains her innocence.

She appeared for a brief court hearing in rural Victoria on Friday, where her case was adjourned until 3 May to give prosecutors time to analyse computer equipment seized from her home during a police search.

The allegations centre on a beef Wellington that Ms Patterson served to her former in-laws Gail and Don Patterson, Gail’s sister Heather Wilkinson and her husband Ian Wilkinson.

Ms Patterson has said she made the dish using a mixture of button mushrooms bought from a supermarket, and dried mushrooms purchased at an Asian grocery months earlier.

All four of her guests were later taken to hospital reporting violent illness, police say.

Within days the Patterson couple, both 70, and Ms Wilkinson, 66, had died. Mr Wilkinson, 68, was taken to hospital in a critical condition but later recovered.

Police say they believe the four ate death cap mushrooms – which are highly lethal if ingested.

Ms Patterson was named as a suspect after she and her two children appeared unharmed after the lunch.

But the 49-year-old maintains she never intended to poison her guests and says that she herself was taken to hospital after the meal and given medication to guard against liver damage.

“I am now devastated to think that these mushrooms may have contributed to the illness suffered by my loved ones,” she wrote in a statement in August.

Along with the three murder charges, Ms Patterson has been charged with two attempted murder charges relating to the July lunch.

Ms Patterson is also facing three counts of attempted murder linked to what police said were three separate incidents where a 48-year-old man allegedly became ill after meals between 2021 and 2022. No further details have been given.

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