Woman ‘in pain’ before death at slapping workshop, court hears

8 hours ago

By Sammy Jenkins & PA MediaBBC News, West of England

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Hongchi Xiao, 61, of Cloudbreak, California, is on trial at Winchester Crown Court

A diabetic woman was “crying on her bed” after she stopped taking insulin during a slapping therapy workshop run by an alternative healer, a court has been told.

Danielle Carr-Gomm, 71, died in October 2016 while taking part in a workshop in Wiltshire which promoted Paida Lajin therapy, which sees patients being slapped or slapping themselves repeatedly.

Prosecutor Duncan Atkinson told Winchester Crown Court Mrs Carr-Gomm had been seen to be “vomiting, tired and weak” and had been “howling in pain”.

The leader of the workshop, Hongchi Xiao, 61, of Cloudbreak, California, denies manslaughter by gross negligence.

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Danielle Carr-Gomm died in October 2016

Mr Atkinson said the 30 people attending the workshop at Cleeve House in Seend were “keen disciples” of the defendant, who was described as Master Xiao in the programme for the event.

He said Ms Carr-Gomm, from Lewes in East Sussex, had sought alternatives to her insulin medication because of her fear of needles, and she had described Mr Xiao as a “messenger sent by God”.

Mr Atkinson said participants fasted for several days, only consumed Chinese tea and signed a disclaimer form which stated the practice was not “meant for medical treatment”.

Mrs Carr-Gomm had Type 1 diabetes, meaning she had to take insulin every day to keep her blood glucose levels under control.

But Mr Atkinson told the court that she announced on the first day of the workshop that she had stopped taking her insulin, which Mr Xiao “congratulated” her on.

“He did nothing to alert others to the risk. He simply congratulated her and allowed a Type 1 diabetic to commence fasting without insulin,” he added.

‘Healing crisis’

Mr Atkinson said other participants interpreted Mrs Carr-Gomm’s deteriorating condition as a “healing crisis” – a term used by the defendant as the process of the Paida Lajin taking effect.

The prosecutor said the decision to intervene had to come from the defendant as the participants “relied on him and his interpretation of what was happening”.

Mr Atkinson said her condition worsened in the early hours of the Thursday – four days after she had stopped taking insulin – and she died of diabetic ketoacidosis.

He told the court Mrs Carr-Gomm’s life could have been saved if she had received medical care, including the administration of insulin, and “no-one was better placed” than the defendant” to “make sure that this happened.”

In an interview after he was arrested, the court was also told Mr Xiao had believed Mrs Carr-Gomm was weak from fasting and had not needed an ambulance.

Mr Atkinson said Mr Xiao had written a book which contained messages which “very clearly” showed the defendant “viewed drugs such as insulin as poisons” and that his own methods “should be effective on almost all diseases”.

‘Independent woman’

Defending, Charles Row told the jury the defendant denied having a duty of care over Mrs Carr-Gomm and he had made it “absolutely clear” to her he was not medically trained.

He said Mr Xiao had told her not to stop taking her insulin and Ms Carr-Gomm “was a law unto herself, a strong, driven and independent woman.”

Mr Row added that the defendant claimed his actions were not causative of Ms Carr-Gomm’s death.

“The degree of influence he had over Danielle Carr-Gomm is very much an issue, as is the question of whether he assumed responsibility for her safety,” Mr Row said.

The trial continues.

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