The sole survivor of the deadly mushroom lunch has been welcomed back to his church after being released from hospital.
Pastor Ian Wilkinson’s two-month recovery was described a “miracle” at a packed service at Korumburra Baptist Church, southeast of Melbourne, on Sunday.
Outside of church, attendee Trevor Shaw said the community was waiting patiently for the “truth to come out” about the fatal lunch on July 29.
“It took great joy to us as a fellowship and those who loved him that he is back home,” Mr Shaw said, according to the Herald Sun.
“Everyone in this community and even the outskirts have felt and been praying seriously on their knees for his recovery. And those prayers have been answered, he’s home.”
Mr Shaw said Mr Wilkinson’s loved ones had been praying Earnestly for both his recovery and “that the truth will come out”.
“That’s the main thing. That the truth will come out, and then we’ll all be able to, in a sense, relax because then there’ll be some closure,” he said.
Their heartache would continue until there was “closure”, he added.
Mystery continues to surround tragic deaths
Mr Wilkinson and his wife Heather joined host Erin Patterson and Erin’s former in-laws Don and Gail Patterson for lunch on July 29.
The group ate beef wellington but the dish is believed to have contained the deadly death cap mushroom.
Don, Gail and Heather all died within days of the fatal lunch. Her ex-husband Simon — who is the son of Don and Gail Patterson — was invited to the lunch but did not attend.
In a statement, Ms Patterson said she too became ill after eating the dish.
Police initially said Ms Patterson was a suspect because she cooked the meal but she has strenuously denied intentionally poisoning her lunch guests and has not been charged by police.
She was approached by 7 News for comment after Mr Wilkinson’s miracle recovery this weekend.
“No. Go away,” she shouted.
Sole survivor released from hospital after almost two months
Mr Wilkinson was admitted to Melbourne’s Austin Hospital and spent close to two months in a critical but stable condition.
On Saturday, a statement declared he had been released.
His release represents an opportunity for detectives investigating the case, The Herald Sun reports.
“This milestone marks a moment of immense relief and gratitude for Ian and the entire Wilkinson family,” they said in a statement.
“The Wilkinson family would like to extend their heartfelt thanks to the Leongatha, Dandenong and Austin Hospitals for their unwavering dedication and exceptional care that played a pivotal role in Ian’s recovery. The medical team’s expertise and compassion have been a source of comfort and hope throughout this journey.”
Toxicologist reveals cruel death twist
Ms Patterson said she purchased the mushrooms from an Asian grocery store in Melbourn. She told police she could not recall the exact location.
Last month Ms Patterson said she was frustrated with the media’s impact on her life and felt unfairly portrayed as a villain after the fatal incident.
“I lost my parents-in-law, my children lost their grandparents and I’ve been painted as an evil witch,” she said.
“The media is making it impossible for me to live in this town. I can’t have friends over. The media is at the house where my children are at. The media are at my sister’s house so I can’t go there. This is unfair.”
A toxicologist not involved in the case last month said that those who were poisoned would have suffered in agony before, in a cruel twist, they would have felt much better moments before they died.
Forensic toxicologist Dr Michael Robertson told Channel 9’s Under Investigation that victims of death cap mushroom poisoning typically can suffer from an unbearable illness before starting to feel better.
But the feeling of relief doesn’t last long, as the person’s body shuts down completely a short time later.
Robertson said they will usually begin to feel unwell several hours after consuming the lethal mushrooms – with “violent” vomiting and diarrhoea generally the first signs of poisoning.
He said: “It’s one of those toxins that gets into your system.
“It gets absorbed into the bloodstream, it then gets transported to the liver and absorbed. The body doesn‘t break this toxin down.
“We’ve got to get rid of it usually in the urine but also in the bile, and the bile duct drops bile back into the intestines.
– With Rohan Smith