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Alternative healer ‘failed to get medical help as diabetic woman lay dying’

Hongchi Xiao appearing at Winchester Crown Court (Elizabeth Cook/PA)
Hongchi Xiao appearing at Winchester Crown Court (Elizabeth Cook/PA)

An alternative healer failed to get medical help as a 71-year-old diabetic woman lay dying while attending a workshop he led which “evangelised” a slapping therapy as an alternative to life-saving insulin medication, a court has heard.

Danielle Carr-Gomm, died at Cleeve House in Seend, Wiltshire, where she was taking part in the workshop in October 2016 which promoted Paida Lajin therapy, which sees patients being slapped or slapping themselves repeatedly.

Hongchi Xiao, 61, of Cloudbreak, California, is on trial at Winchester Crown Court accused of the manslaughter by gross negligence of Mrs Carr-Gomm, from Lewes, East Sussex.

Duncan Atkinson, prosecuting, told the jury that Mrs Carr-Gomm had sought alternatives to her insulin medication for type 1 diabetes because of her vegetarianism and fear of needles.

Danielle Carr-Gomm death
Danielle Carr-Gomm (Family handout/Wiltshire Police)

She had first joined a Paida Lajin workshop – which means “slap and stretch” – run by the defendant in Bulgaria in July 2016.

Mr Atkinson said: “It is said to be a method of self-healing in which ‘poisonous waste’ is expelled from the body through patting and slapping parts of the body.”

He explained that during the Bulgarian session, Mrs Carr-Gomm stopped taking her insulin.

He said: “She became extremely unwell, starting to vomit and became hard to reason with.

“She had to be persuaded to start taking her insulin again before she recovered.

“The defendant was present, spoke to her about taking insulin, and was in a position to see the effects on Mrs Carr-Gomm both of her ceasing to take her insulin and of restarting the injections.”

Mr Atkinson said that Mrs Carr-Gomm went on to attend the defendant’s workshop in Wiltshire in October of that year.

Again she stopped taking her insulin and fell seriously ill before she died on the fourth day after Xiao had failed to seek medical help for her, Mr Atkinson said.

He continued: “He knew that Mrs Carr-Gomm was risking death, and he knew that he had an influence over her decision.

“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.”

Mr Atkinson explained that prior to Mrs Carr-Gomm’s death, he had been prosecuted in Australia for the manslaughter of a six-year-old boy who died in 2015.

The boy had also stopped taking insulin after his parents took him to another of Xiao’s workshops in Sydney.

Mr Atkinson said that both the child’s death and the incident in Bulgaria “would have made abundantly clear to him that her (Mrs Carr-Gomm’s) life was increasingly in danger”.

He described how Mrs Carr-Gomm became “increasingly and seriously unwell” and by the second day she “could be heard crying and yelling whilst laying on her bed”.

By the third day, “she was vomiting, tired and weak, and by the evening she was howling in paid and unable to respond to questions,” Mr Atkinson said.

He continued: “She was moved from her bed to a mattress on the floor because she fell from the bed.

“Those who had received and accepted the defendant’s teachings misinterpreted Mrs Carr-Gomm’s condition as a healing crisis.”

He added: “In that period of increasing danger, the medical evidence is that Mrs Carr-Gomm’s life could have been saved if medical aid was called.

“By the time that such medical aid was finally called on day 4, October 20, 2016, it was too late, and Danielle Carr-Gomm had died of diabetic ketoacidosis as a direct result of the decision to stop taking her insulin injections.

“That decision was taken in the context of Mrs Carr-Gomm’s exposure to the evangelism, the confident belief, of this defendant that insulin was poison and that Paida Lajin represented an alternative, an alternative which she sought, to injecting insulin.

“The defendant knew at first hand that it did not represent such an alternative, but rather it carried with it an obvious and serious risk of death.

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

Mrs Carr-Gomm was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 1998 and she was told that “if she did not take her insulin, she would die”, Mr Atkinson said.

He said that her son, Matthew Carr-Gomm, had said she had sought alternative and holistic medicines to address her diabetes.

Mr Atkinson explained: “She was, as her son put it, an obsessive vegetarian, and it was this, together with her fear of needles, that made her anxious to find an alternative to injection with insulin.”

The prosecutor said that Xiao had been an “exponent” of Paida Lajin for 10 years and had written a book on it.

He said: “He does not have medical qualifications or training.

“In a book that he wrote about Paida Lajin, the defendant asserted that the taking of insulin leads to liver and eye problems, and that in contrast the Paida Lajin was ‘safer and more reliable than existing healing practices’ which would result in ‘significant improvement’ or full recovery in 90% of cases, including cases of diabetes.”

Xiao denies the charge of manslaughter and the trial continues.