A young, diabetic boy vomited regularly and was forced to fast for three days before his death during a “radical” Chinese slapping and stretching therapy workshop in Sydney, a jury has heard.
The boy’s mother, father and grandmother, and Chinese self-help practitioner Hong Chi Xiao have all pleaded not guilty in the NSW District Court to the manslaughter of the six-year-old boy in April 2015.
The Crown alleges all four accused breached the duty of care they owed the child through gross negligence.
Crown prosecutor Sharon Harris told a jury in the Downing Centre District Court on Wednesday the boy’s last insulin injection to treat his type one diabetes came on the first day of the week-long workshop.
The child was then forced to consume nothing but water or a ginger drink on days three, four and five.
During the workshop, the boy was subjected to “a radical treatment” called paida lajin that involved slapping and stretching the body.
Ms Harris said Xiao instructed the family to stop the regular blood glucose tests and insulin injections and said the boy’s increasing vomiting showed toxins were leaving his body.
Instead, Ms Harris said, the vomiting of black and yellow substances and other symptoms were “obvious signs of diabetic ketoacidosis”, which the boy died of on the sixth night.
“He was pushed around in a stroller on the final day because he couldn’t walk,” she said.
Ms Harris said Xiao had claimed in a seminar before the start of the workshop the treatment “activated the body’s self-healing power and unlocked the body’s energy channels” and was capable of curing cancer and diabetes.
“Xiao was promoting his methods as superior to conventional Western medicine,” she said.
But Xiao’s barrister Robert Cavanagh disputed his client owed the boy a duty of care or, even were that the case, the Chinese practitioner was ever criminally negligent.
“This was a workshop for a number of people…(and) is an offering to people of alternative treatment,” he told the jury.
The mother’s barrister, Ragni Mathur, said her client wasn’t some “alternative medicine fanatic” and had treated her son’s diabetes exactly as a Sydney hospital had instructed.
Both Ms Mathur and the grandmother’s barrister argued their client believed Xiao was a doctor.
“This is about trust, about misplaced trust and whether misplaced trust in all the circumstances amounts to manslaughter,” Ms Mathur said.
The father’s barrister asked the jury to consider how much the 58-year-old knew about his son’s condition and whether a duty-of-care breach amounted to gross criminal negligence.
The trial before Judge David Arnott is expected to last six weeks.