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Herbalist admits warning woman to cut meds

A Chinese herbalist and acupuncturist charged with unlawful killing a diabetic woman admitted he warned her off medication to treat high blood sugar, in a video shown to a Sydney court.

Suspended Chinese medicine practitioner Yun Sen Luo, 56 this month, has pleaded not guilty to unlawfully killing a 56-year-old mother on June 8, 2018.

Luo disputes him ever being told of the mother’s diabetes, saying the only medicine he was informed about was that for travel sickness.

But in a video of a search warrant played to the court on Wednesday, Luo can be heard telling the officer in charge the woman was on medication for high blood sugar.

Asked if he meant diabetes, he said they were “not the same thing”.

The court earlier heard from the woman’s son-in-law, who said the Chinese Mandarin word for diabetes was the same as that for high blood sugar.

As officers searched his practice rooms in Burwood in the video, Luo was asked if he had any specific training in treating diabetes.

“No, I just treated the symptoms,” he said.

“But you told her to discontinue (the medication)?”

“Yes.”

Luo also said he was surprised to learn of the woman’s death, telling detectives she had seemed OK, even the morning she died.

The woman’s family has previously told the trial she struggled to eat, sleep and stay lucid in the days before her death, and was eventually placed in adult nappies.

However, Luo’s barrister Peter Skinner last week argued it couldn’t be proven beyond reasonable doubt that the omission of diabetic medicine was the main cause of death, and insisted his client didn’t know her diagnosis.

Mr Skinner has contended none of his client’s messages with the family mentions diabetes.

“My client was never treating her for diabetes, he didn’t know she had diabetes and he didn’t really know about her medical history at all,” he said.

The Crown alleges that during the first consultation on May 26, Luo said the mother could eat whatever fruits she likes and claimed Western medications had caused toxins to form inside her body.

“(His) final direction, that she stop taking Western medication and start taking herbal medications prescribed by him, set in train a series of events that led to her death,” crown prosecutor Emma Blizard told the trial last week.

Among the remedies allegedly recommended by Luo to treat the woman were saffron, Korean ginseng, grape juice, jackfruit and durian, the court has been told.

Earlier on Wednesday, the woman’s son-in-law told the court he’d asked Luo if she needed to go to hospital.

He said Luo said there was “no need” as the woman was “in the stage of recovery”.

Had she been taken to hospital earlier, she very likely would have lived, the Crown has said, arguing it must have been obvious to Luo that the family was deferring that decision to him as a person with specialist knowledge.

The District Court trial, before Judge John Pickering without a jury, continues.

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