A former colleague of Erin Patterson has revealed details of her past life, describing her as “eccentric” and “abrasive” during her time as an air traffic controller in the early 2000s.
Ms Patterson has been charged with three counts of murder and four counts of attempted murder.
She is accused of serving up a beef Wellington pie at her home in sleepy Leongatha that contained deadly death cap mushrooms which resulted in the deaths of three of her relatives.
Not much is known about Ms Patterson apart from the fact she was once a newsletter editor.
At the time of her alleged murders she was a stay-at-home mum to her two children.
However, a former colleague has now revealed that Ms Patterson worked as an air traffic controller in Melbourne, before she was married, when she was Erin Scutter.
In a statement to the Herald Sun a spokesperson from Airservices Australia spokesperson said: “Erin Scutter was employed by Airservices Australia as an air traffic controller from 12 February 2001 until 28 November 2002.”
The former colleague described Erin as highly intelligent and capable, graduating from the challenging training course and working independently in the field.
“She was rated in the field and was actually responsible for running airspace for a while,” the former colleague told the Herald Sun.
“She’s very bright and much brighter than people might think. She managed to get guys wrapped around her little finger although she was very unkempt … and she was abrasive.”
Her former colleague recalled an incident where she yelled at the head of the air traffic control department for tripping on her headset cord.
“I remember in the first week that she started in the job somebody walked behind her and tripped on a cord that was on the floor that was attached to her headset. She turned around and yelled ‘you right you buffoon?!’ It was the head of the air traffic control department. She didn’t hold back.”
The former colleague said he vaguely recognised Ms Patterson when news of the alleged mushroom lunch deaths broke.
He said he hadn’t seen or heard from her in more than two decades.
Airservices Australia is a federal government agency responsible for the management of a substantial portion of the world‘s airspace and provides aviation rescue firefighting services at Australia’s busiest airports.
“She’d put a bit of weight but she looked so familiar, and she had the same first name and we were 90 to 95 per cent convinced at that point that it was the same person, but then when we saw in the papers that her mother’s name was Scutter we were completely sure,” the former colleague continued.
“And I remember that one of the reporters asked her how she was feeling as she was walking into a house early on, and she turned around and said ‘thanks for asking’, and as soon as she said that, well that was the classic sort of line that would come out of her mouth.”
Shortly after 10am on Friday, Ms Patterson, 49, appeared briefly in the Latrobe Valley Magistrates’ Court following her arrest and a raid of her home on Thursday.
The murder charges, and two attempted murder charges, relate to a meal served at her Leongatha home on July 29, which police allege contained fatal death-cap mushrooms and resulted in the deaths of her ex-husband’s parents and his aunt.
According to court documents, police allege Ms Patterson attempted to murder her ex-husband, Simon Patterson, 48, four times over a three-year period.
She’s accused of first trying in November 2021, followed by two attempts in May and September last year, while the fourth relates to the fatal July 29 lunch.
Detective Inspector Dean Thomas of the Homicide Squad said on Thursday a tragedy such as this can reverberate for years to come in smaller communities such as Leongatha and Korumburra.
“Today’s charges are just the next step in what has been an incredibly complex, methodical and thorough investigation by Homicide Squad detectives,” he said.
“I cannot think of another investigation that has generated this level of media and public interest, not only here in Victoria but also nationally and internationally.
“I think it is particularly important that we keep in mind that at the heart of this, three people have lost their lives.
“These are three people who by all accounts were much beloved in their communities and are greatly missed by their loved ones.”