Wiltshire: Man used ‘slapping therapy as diabetes cure’ – court

By Dickon HooperBBC Points West • Sarah TurnnidgeBBC News, West of England

PA A court sketch of Hongchi Xiao today at Winchester Crown Court. He is shown wearing a dark suit jacket and white shirt with no tie, black headphones and glasses. Behind him is a custody officer in a white shirt and dark tie. PA

Hongchi Xiao was extradited from Australia to the UK to face charges

A man charged over the death of a 71-year-old woman at a slapping therapy workshop had promoted the practice as a “cure” for diabetes, a prosecutor said.

Hongchi Xiao, 61, of Cloudbreak in California, appeared at Winchester Crown Court today for the start of what was expected to be a three-week trial.

He was charged in November with manslaughter by gross negligence after the death of Danielle Carr-Gomm, 71 at a workshop in Seend, Wiltshire, on 20 October 2016, but pleaded not guilty.

Mr Xiao, the prosecution said, led Mrs Carr-Gomm – who had Type 1 diabetes – to believe insulin was a “poison” and that her condition could be cured through his therapy.

‘Slap and stretch’

Prosecuting barrister Duncan Atkinson KC told the court how Mrs Carr-Gomm, from Lewes in East Sussex, was a committed vegetarian and had a fear of needles – both factors which had fuelled her years-long search for an alternative to insulin.

She initially met Mr Xiao, who was extradited from Australia before being charged by Wiltshire Police, at a Paida Lajin workshop in Bulgaria.

Translating to “slap and stretch”, Paida Lajin is said to be a method through which “poisonous waste” is expelled from the body through patting and slapping parts of the body.

During the workshop in Bulgaria, the prosecution said, Mr Xiao had assured Mrs Carr-Gomm he could help her with her diabetes.

At the same event Mrs Carr-Gomm stopped taking her insulin and became “extremely unwell”, Mr Atkinson said, and had to be persuaded to start taking her medication again.

grey placeholderWiltshire Police Danielle Carr-Gomm pictured wearing a white t-shirt, sat on the ground amongst lots of yellow flowers. Wiltshire Police

Mrs Carr-Gormm died four days into a slapping therapy workshop

Manslaughter conviction

The court heard how in April 2015 Xiao had led a seminar in a suburb of Sydney, during which he described Paida Lajin as “100% effective against Type 1 diabetes and that its healing effects meant it was no longer necessary to take insulin”.

In the public gallery were the parents of a six-year-old boy called Aiden who had died, and who had also had Type 1 diabetes.

His parents enrolled him in a workshop led by Mr Xiao, during which the boy became increasingly unwell with extreme symptoms of diabetic ketoacidosis, which Mr Xiao claimed were simply “part of self-healing body adjustment”.

After Aiden’s death, a “direct consequence” of not receiving his insulin”, Mr Xiao was convicted by an Australian court of manslaughter after telling the boy’s mother to stop injecting him with the medication.

‘Howling in pain’

The court heard how on the first day of the workshop in Wiltshire, Mrs Carr-Gomm had announced she had stopped taking her insulin and had been congratulated by Xiao and others present for doing so.

“He knew that Mrs Carr-Gomm was risking death, and he knew that he had an influence over her decision,” said Mr Atkinson.

“In short, therefore he chose to congratulate a diabetic who stopped injecting, rather than to persuade them not to take so grievous a risk to their life.”

Alongside other attendees Mrs Carr-Gomm began to fast, but soon fell seriously unwell, “tired”, “weak and “howling in pain” by day three.

Mr Atkinson said Mr Xiao was “involved” in her care and “thus had repeated opportunities to see and advise her”, but there is no evidence he told her to take her insulin or call for medical assistance.

By day four, Mrs Carr-Gomm had died of diabetic ketoacidosis.

“He assumed a position of leadership and control over Mrs Carr-Gomm and her care as she declined and died, and owed her a duty, which he failed to meet, to help and care for her,” Mr Atkinson said.

This, he summarised, “substantially contributed” to her death and “amounted to gross negligence”.

The trial continues.

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