Victoria’s alleged mushroom murders: who are Erin Patterson and the other key figures?

<span>A sketch of Erin Patterson appearing in Latrobe Valley magistrates court.</span><span>Photograph: Anita Lester/AAP</span>
A sketch of Erin Patterson appearing in Latrobe Valley magistrates court.Photograph: Anita Lester/AAP

A fatal lunch in a Victorian town that left three people dead and one person fighting for his life has captivated curiosity across the world.

On 29 July 2023, Erin Patterson invited her ex-husband’s family – including his parents and aunt and uncle – over for a beef wellington lunch in the quiet town of Leongatha.

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

Patterson has since been accused of their murder, and has been charged with three counts of murder and five of attempted murder. Four of the attempted murder charges relate to her ex-husband, Simon, who she allegedly tried to kill before the fateful lunch.


Here’s a breakdown of who is at the centre of the now infamous mushroom lunch.

Erin Patterson

Erin, 49, who served the beef wellington lunch at her home in Leongatha, has been charged with five counts of attempted murder and three charges of murder. She has remained behind bars since she was charged in November.

Erin has denied any wrongdoing and maintains her innocence. According to the ABC, Erin said she had “no reason to hurt these people, whom I loved”.

Erin has two children with her ex-husband Simon Patterson. Patterson said her children had attended the movies prior to the lunch and were not in attendance, according to the ABC.

Simon Patterson

Simon, 49, is Erin’s ex-husband and father to their two children. His mother, father, and aunt died after the lunch, and his uncle was left fighting for his life.

Simon was not present at the mushroom lunch. But four of the five attempted murder charges relate to separate incidents in which police allege Simon became ill after meals. Three of those were between 2021 and 2022. The fourth attempted murder charge related to the day of the fatal lunch.

Gail Patterson

Gail Patterson, 70, was Simon’s mum. Gail died the day before her husband, Don, on 4 August, six days after the lunch.

Gail lived with Don in Korumburra, which is a 14-minute drive from where the lunch was held in Leongatha. They had both worked as school teachers.

Police will allege in court that Gail, and the two others who died, had symptoms consistent with eating death cap mushrooms, which are responsible for 90% of mushroom-related deaths. A single bite can be deadly, with symptoms occurring six to 24 hours after eating.

Don Patterson

Don Patterson, 70, was Simon’s dad and Gail’s husband. Don died on 5 August, seven days after he was served the lunch.

In a memorial for his parents in August, Simon remembered Gail and Don as “very much a team”, adding: “The fact they died on consecutive days reflected the togetherness they had worked so hard.”

Simon spoke about overseas trips with his father, including to the Mt Everest base camp. Younger climbers were struck by his father’s fitness when he was then in his 60s, he said.

Heather Wilkinson

Heather Wilkinson, 66, was Gail’s sister and Simon’s aunt. Heather died the same day as her sister Gail, on 4 August.

Heather was a former school teacher, and was remembered by her son at her memorial service as a wonderful mother who, alongside his father, Ian Wilkinson, had a very close relationship with Don and Gail.

Ian Wilkinson

Rev Ian Wilkinson, 70, was married to Heather for almost 45 years, and survived the fatal mushroom lunch. He spent weeks in a coma after the lunch, and was discharged from hospital in September.

Ian is a Baptist church pastor in Korumburra. In February, Ian delivered his first sermon after his recovery, saying Heather, Don, and Gail “went to be with the Lord”.