'Every day I punish myself:' Calgary mom guilty in son's strep death apologizes
Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press
Published Thursday, September 21, 2017 4:42AM EDT
Last Updated Friday, September 22, 2017 1:35PM EDT
CALGARY -- A woman who treated her seven-year-old boy with holistic remedies before he died of a strep infection says every day is a painful reminder that an error in judgment led to her son's death.
Tamara Lovett, 48, was found guilty in January of criminal negligence causing death by a judge who said Lovett "gambled away" the life of her son Ryan by treating him without seeking medical help in 2013.
"Every day I punish myself. I think about Ryan and I blame myself for not knowing better and for holding limiting beliefs that ultimately led to the death of my child," Lovett told her sentencing hearing Thursday as she wiped tears. "At the time, I thought I was doing the best for my child.
"I hope others learn from my ignorance, because these beliefs are no longer entrenched in my psyche and this has been a painful lesson."
Lovett gave her son dandelion tea and oil of oregano when he developed the infection that kept him bedridden in their Calgary home for 10 days in March 2013.
She testified at her trial that she thought Ryan had a cold or the flu, and she didn't think his swollen lymph nodes, an oozing ear infection and jaundiced eyes weren't anything she couldn't handle.
Alberta's chief medical examiner testified that the boy's body was full of group A streptococcus bacteria, which caused most of his major organs to fail.
"I now know better. Forgive me for my ignorance. It has cost me a loving son and there is a pain which will last forever," Lovett said Thursday.
"How do I get over losing my child because of an error in my judgment? Every moment of every day is a reminder of what I've lost."
Prosecutor Jonathan Hak asked Justice Kristine Eidsvik to impose a sentence of four to five years.
"The defendant ignored obvious warning signs. In doing so, her son suffered unnecessarily," Hak said.
He noted that Lovett ignored a friend's advice to seek help for Ryan hours before his death and that she isn't likely to change her mind about holistic medicine.
Defence lawyer Alain Hepner, who is calling for a sentence of one year plus probation, said his client has already suffered "pain and torment" for causing Ryan's death.
He told court Lovett was not a mean or abusive mother, but someone who made a mistake.
"Tamara Lovett has suffered the ultimate penalty for her actions --the death of her son," Hepner said. "She realizes her belief system caused the death of her son."
Hepner has filed an application on behalf of his client arguing the guilty verdict should be overturned because the case was not dealt with in a reasonable time. Those arguments are scheduled for Oct. 24.