'Healer' accused of killing diabetic child by giving him 'slap therapy' instead of insulin

Self-styled healer Hong Chi Xiao has appeared in an Australian court to face charges of killing a six-year-old boy, he has also been investigated over the death of a British diabetic grandmotherHongchi Xiao/Facebook

A self-styled healer has appeared in an Australian court facing charges of killing a six-year-old boy because he insisted the child used his "slap therapy" rather than take insulin.

Hong Chi Xiao has also been investigated by UK police over a similar death of a British diabetic grandmother. The force handed over its files to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) for a decision on if charges should be brought.

While the UK investigation was being carried out, Xiao was extradited to Australia and appeared in New South Wales Supreme Court on 4 October over the manslaughter of a diabetic boy, following a two-year probe.

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Xiao, 54, promotes the Chinese paida lajin "self-healing" method, which involves treating diseases by repeated slapping until bruising occurs, as well as stretching.

During Xiao's bail application the court heard the healer did not allow the child insulin for five days and put him on a fasting regime of dates and ginger water. He denies all charges.

The court watched a video presentation by Xiao where he claimed that diabetics did not need to take insulin after practising his technique and would only need to consume sugar water daily for the maintenance of good health.

The boy was at a $1,800 (£1065) a week course at health centre in Hurstville, south Sydney, in April 2015. Others on the course told the police that the boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was vomiting regularly after a few days. The child became so weak that he could not walk and his parents had to push him about in a pram.

But Xiao, who the court heard has no medical qualifications, claimed this was down to the previous poisonous effects of insulin, reported the Sydney Morning Herald. Xiao had worked as an accountant until he was 40 before taking up paida lajin, the judge heard.

Flight risk

Finally, on 26 April the boy had a seizure and lapsed into unconsciousness from which he never recovered. He died of diabetic ketoacidosis, the hearing was told. His parents and grandmother - who cannot be named for legal reasons - have also been charged with manslaughter.

Justice Elizabeth Fullerton refused bail for Xiao on the grounds that he posed a flight risk and presented a danger to the community.

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Prosecutors in the UK said they are still deciding whether to charge Xiao over the death of Danielle Carr-Gomm, 71, whose body was found just hours after taking part in one of his workshops at a country hotel in Seend, Wiltshire, in 2016.

Carr-Gomm, a Type 1 diabetes sufferer from East Sussex, had stopped taking insulin after undergoing previous workshops. Following her death, Xiao was among two men and a woman arrested by Wiltshire Police on suspicion of manslaughter.

Speaking in 2016, the grandmother-of-four's son Matthew, 43, who lives in New Zealand, said: "She'd been deceived and persuaded by this guy that it was a practice that would cure her. It's been a huge shock for the family. I spoke to her the week before and she had been thoroughly convinced that it [slap therapy] would have a benefit towards a disease which she'd battled with since her late 50's."

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