Victoria’s alleged mushroom murders case: court hears Erin Patterson may not face committal hearing until 2025

<span>Erin Patterson faced court on Monday over the alleged murders of three relatives by serving them a meal laced with deadly mushrooms.</span><span>Photograph: Nine News/AAP</span>
Erin Patterson faced court on Monday over the alleged murders of three relatives by serving them a meal laced with deadly mushrooms.Photograph: Nine News/AAP

Erin Patterson, the woman accused of murdering and attempting to murder her relatives by serving them a meal laced with deadly mushrooms, may spend 15 months in custody before she faces a committal hearing, a court has heard.

Patterson, 49, was charged with three counts of murder and five counts of attempted murder in November after hosting the fatal lunch at her house in regional Victoria.

She is accused of murdering three guests who attended lunch at her Leongatha property on 29 July 2023: Simon’s parents, Don and Gail Patterson, and his aunt Heather Wilkinson.

She is also alleged to have attempted to murder her estranged husband, Simon Patterson, on three occasions in 2021 and 2022.

The two final counts of attempted murder also relate to the lunch and alleged victim Patterson, who was invited but did not attend, and Heather’s husband, Ian Wilkinson, who was left critically ill after the lunch but was discharged from hospital in September.

Related: Beef wellington and alleged murder: how Australia’s suspected mushroom poisoning case unfolded – a timeline

Wearing a royal blue top and staring straight ahead, Patterson appeared on camera from the Dame Phyllis Frost Centre, a women’s prison, for the brief hearing in the Latrobe Valley magistrates court in Morwell on Monday.

The matter was temporarily stood down after the court heard that her lawyer and the prosecutor had joined the wrong online court link.

When it resumed, magistrate Tim Walsh said he would not be able to accommodate the dates put forward by her lawyers for a committal – the hearing in which the evidence against her will be tested for the first time.

He asked her lawyers whether they had considered moving the case to the Melbourne magistrates court, or applying to have it fast-tracked through the supreme court.

But Colin Mandy SC, for Patterson, said it was her wish for the case to be heard in Morwell, regardless of any prospective delays, which Walsh said could mean she spends at least 15 months on remand before the committal hearing.

Walsh said he was concerned by the delay, notwithstanding Patterson’s wishes.

Mandy said it was standard practice for a court to hear matters as close as possible to where an alleged crime occurred and to the home of the accused. The crimes allegedly occurred at Patterson’s home in Leongatha, about 60km away.

Mandy said most of the witnesses who were expected to appear at the committal were also from the area.

“It’s not only a matter of principle and there are powerful reasons for the committal having to take place in the local community,” Mandy said.

Walsh responded: “It won’t be in the local community. It will be in Morwell.”

Mandy then said: “That’s close to Ms Patterson’s home in the context of regional Victoria.”


Mandy clarified that Patterson was aware such a hearing may not occur this year.

The committal hearing is expected to last for several weeks.

Prosecutor Sarah Lenthall said the director of public prosecutions wanted the hearing as soon as possible. She said the DPP and Patterson’s lawyers “largely” agreed about the witnesses who should appear.

Walsh said he believed the decision about where and when a hearing should occur was ultimately a matter for the court.

He described the brief in the case, which he consulted over the weekend, as “quite voluminous”, making clear it would be less than ideal for Patterson to have to find another barrister should the court be unable to accommodate her request.

“The delay seems to be getting a bit out there … but I’ll have a bit more of a think about that between now and the 7th of May,” he said.

The hearing lasted nine minutes after it resumed, with Patterson appearing to take notes while listening intently.

Patterson was remanded in custody until 7 May, when the matter will return for a committal mention.

Patterson and her husband separated before the alleged attempted murders. They have two children.

There are no further details available about the charges of attempted murder before the lunch, other than that police allege they occurred in Victoria between 16 and 17 November 2021, and between 25 and 27 May and on 6 September in 2022.

Patterson has not yet been required to enter a plea in relation to the charges but has said in a statement to police that she had not meant to harm her lunch guests.

The court previously heard police sought a 20-week adjournment in order to analyse computer equipment seized at Patterson’s Leongatha home. The defence agreed to the delay.

The brief was served on Patterson’s lawyers in March. She is being represented by solicitor Bill Doogue and Mandy.