Son of mushroom poisoning victims speaks at memorial


Questions remain about what led to the deaths of a couple suspected to have been poisoned by mushrooms after they were farewelled at a public memorial service in a town in Victoria's southeast.

Don and Gail Patterson, both 70, died in hospital after their daughter-in-law Erin Patterson cooked them a beef wellington at her Leongatha home on July 29.

The couple's son, Simon Patterson, spoke publicly for the first time in the wake of their deaths when he addressed a public memorial service for the pair at Korumburra Recreation Centre on Thursday.

His parents were recently laid to rest during a private burial.

The couple lived by their faith and were generous and frugal, giving away their possessions to avoid burdening their family, Mr Patterson said.

"They'd acknowledged life's transience and death's reality as something that's not right about the world and so it's very sad, but they also knew that death is not final," he told hundreds of mourners at the service.

Mr Patterson said his father was fit enough to have an emergency liver transplant during his final days in hospital.

Reverend Fran Grimes said media interest in the couple's deaths had made grieving in private difficult.

The family was thankful for locals who had shielded them from "heartless speculation" about the couple's deaths, she said.

"It has been a tragic and devastating time, particularly for the families," Rev Grimes said.

The couple's many grandchildren spoke in pre-recorded messages played at the service.

Gail's sister Heather Wilkinson, 66, also died following the July 29 lunch.

The Korumburra Baptist community has been praying for the recovery of Mrs Wilkinson's husband, local church pastor Ian Wilkinson, who remains in hospital in a critical but stable condition after he also ate the meal.

Police believe the four people were all poisoned by death cap mushrooms.

They have not provided any updates about their investigation.

Erin Patterson, who has not been charged, is considered a suspect.

The 46-year-old claims she made the beef wellington using button mushrooms from a major supermarket and dried mushrooms bought at an Asian grocery store.

Simon Patterson, her estranged husband, was due to attend the lunch but pulled out.

There was a small police presence at Thursday's memorial service.

The Victorian Department of Health is required to act if there is a food safety incident.

There have been no ordered recalls of mushroom products in the state since the suspected poisonings.