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First hearing in Australian mushroom deaths trial

An Australian woman, accused of murdering three elderly people after they allegedly consumed poisonous mushrooms at a lunch hosted by her, has faced her first hearing in court.

Erin Patterson, 49, appeared via video link for the brief directions hearing ahead of her murder trial, the Australian Broadcasting Corp (ABC) reported.

Ms Patterson was charged in November with three counts of murder and five of attempted murder. She has pleaded not guilty to all of the charges.

Don Patterson, his wife, Gail, and her sister Heather Wilkinson fell ill and later died after the lunch which was held in the small rural town of Leongatha, around 135km southeast of Melbourne, in July 2023.

The property owned by Erin Patterson in the town of Leongatha, south-east of Melbourne

Australian media at the time reported Don and Gail Patterson were the parents of Erin Patterson’s ex-husband Simon Patterson, who was also present at the lunch.

The case has gripped Australia, where deaths from eating mushrooms are relatively rare.

The case will return to court in August, the ABC report said.

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