A traditional Chinese herbalist warned a diabetic woman off “western medication” and allayed her family’s concerns about her decline before she collapsed and died, a New South Wales judge has been told.

Prosecutors accuse Sydney practitioner Yun Sen Luo of unlawfully killing a 56-year-old woman who’d approached him about a skin condition in 2018.

After allegedly learning she was diabetic, Luo is accused of advising her that western doctors had an incorrect perception of diabetes, that she could eat whatever fruits she liked and that prior use of 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 Sydney district court on Thursday.

Less than a fortnight after her first appointment with Luo – and after days of her daughter reporting increasingly worsening symptoms – the woman died on 8 June 2018.

Luo, who turns 56 this month and is from Baulkham Hills, has pleaded not guilty to manslaughter by gross criminal negligence.

It couldn’t be proven beyond reasonable doubt that the omission of diabetic medicine was the main cause of the woman’s death, defence barrister Peter Skinner said.

“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 on Thursday.

At the time of the Chinese woman’s death she’d been on a long holiday visiting her daughter’s family in Sydney.

On the advice of a friend of the daughter, she visited Luo for a skin condition in late May, emerging “very happy” after two hours, the court was told.

“She said to me, ‘The doctor told me, from today on, I only need to have that Chinese medication’,” the daughter told the court through a Mandarin interpreter.

“‘I don’t have to have that medication for diabetes. Also, I can’t have any types of western-style medication’.”

Luo, the daughter said, was a metre away at the time. Within days, the woman was reporting dizziness and nausea, which Blizard said Luo put down to “a sign the toxins in her body were being cleansed”.

As the days went on, the daughter told Luo by WeChat that her mother was “always thirsty”, vomiting “as soon as she eats”, and so weak and feeble that she appeared in a trance.

About 3.30am on 5 June, the concerned daughter apologised for disturbing the doctor but said her mother was cold, her eyes were rolling back and “she can barely speak”.

Luo visited the home later that day, allegedly saying the mother’s symptoms were a “superficial scenario”, her pulse looked good and that he didn’t think she was in danger.

“It must have been obvious to the accused in his discussions with the family that he was being treated by them as a person with specialist knowledge and they were deferring [to him],” Blizard said.

Skinner said none of the WeChat messages mentioned diabetes – consistent with his client’s case that he never knew of the woman’s condition.

The trial, before judge John Pickering without a jury, is expected to run for three weeks.

This content was originally published here.