A California man has been extradited to the U.K. to face manslaughter charges over the death of a woman at his 2016 slapping therapy workshop.
An investigation was opened in October, 2016 when 71-year-old Danielle Carr-Gomm was found dead in her hotel room at Cleeve House in Seend, Wiltshire. Carr-Gomm had recently attended a paida lajin retreat, which is a form of therapy from China wherein a person vigorously slaps certain parts of the body in order to expel certain toxins from the blood.
60-year-old Hongchi Xiao, a man from California who was in Australia at the time of his extradition, was held and questioned in the U.K. in 2016 along with two other men in relation to Carr-Gomm’s death.
“Hongchi Xiao, 60, of Cloudbreak, California, returned to the United Kingdom from Australia on an extradition warrant and has been taken to Gablecross custody in Swindon where he was charged. This relates to the death of Danielle Carr-Gomm, 71, at Cleeve House in Seend in October 2016,” said local police to the Guardian.
According to a BBC article on the subject of paida lajin, the head and joint areas of the patient are repeatedly slapped until they turn red or bruised. This is based around the ancient Chinese belief in “sha,” meaning that “toxins” from the blood vessels which appear during the course of paida lajin therapy in the form of redness or bruising at the slapping site are a sign of latent disease. Critics of this practice have pointed out, somewhat redundantly, that this is just the result of blood vessels breaking and skin bruising.
According to ABC Australia, Xiao was previously investigated over the 2015 death of a seven-year-old diabetic boy in Sydney, Australia who had previously attended one of his workshops. Xiao received a 10-year sentence for his involvement in the boy’s death in 2019. An investigation revealed he told the boy’s parents that the boy would not need insulin or medical treatment for his diabetes if he attended the slapping therapy.
An Australian news outlet reported in 2022 that Xiao’s charges had been overturned after he appealed his case on the grounds that the evidence presented was inconsistent. He had served six years of his 10-year sentence at the time, and was out of jail a little over a year-and-a-half before his extradition
Matthew Carr-Gomm, Danielle’s son, told the Guardian that his mother was diabetic but had difficulty injecting her insulin due to a fear of needles, thus leading her to seek holistic methods to treat her ailments.
“She was always keen to try and find alternative methods of treating and dealing with her diabetes and was very interested in alternative and holistic medicine and therapies. I know she was desperate to try and cure herself of this disease. She always maintained a healthy lifestyle and was adamant that nothing would stop her from living a full life,” Matthew said. “In recent years, mum was in a great place with a partner, a lovely home, and was traveling the world. She had a lot of life left in her.”
A BBC reporter with a knee injury actually reported on her firsthand experience attending a paida lajin workshop in 2015, though she was actually beaten with bamboo sticks instead of slapped.
“He felt around my knee for where he thought the “little clots” were and without warning, forcefully whacked my knee. He aimed for exactly the same spot each time. It was excruciating. I yelled in surprise. The bruises turned purple quickly and minutes later, I had to halt the blows,” said BBC reporter Pamela Koh. “The beating needed to continue for at least 20 minutes to be effective, I was told. I gritted my teeth between the sharp, swift blows but I had to tell him to stop. He resumed until it became unbearable again and I tried to sit through the full 20 minutes of pain.”
Incidentally, Koh reported that her knee eventually did get better but that the bruises took weeks to heal properly and she was unsure if her knee got better because of the therapy or because of the body’s natural ability to heal. A video of Xiao demonstrating paida lajin therapy can be found at this handy dandy little hyperlink. He was charged with manslaughter by gross negligence upon his return to the U.K. It was not immediately clear how much prison time he faced if convicted.
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