CALGARY — The lawyer for a Calgary woman who treated her son with holistic remedies before he died of a strep infection says his client was a good mother and is "morally innocent."
Tamara Lovett, who is 47, is accused of failing to provide the necessaries of life and with criminal negligence causing death.
Her seven-year-old son, Ryan Alexander Lovett, died in March 2013 after getting an infection that kept him bedridden for 10 days.
Alberta's chief medical examiner testified that the boy's body was full of group A streptococcus, which caused most of his major organs to fail.
Ryan Alexander Lovett is shown with his mother Tamara Lovett in this undated handout image provided by the child's father Brian Jerome from his Facebook page. (Photo: Handout/The Canadian Press)
The medical examiner also said it appeared that Ryan had died well before paramedics responded to Lovett's panic-stricken, early-morning 911 call on March 2, 2013.
The trial has heard Lovett gave the boy dandelion tea and oil of oregano rather than life-saving antibiotics.
In his final submission, Lovett's lawyer, Alain Hepner, said there's no doubt that Lovett was a loving mother who did everything she could, but realized too late how sick Ryan really was.
"Probably many of us would have called earlier but her belief system was such that she made every effort," Hepner told the court Friday. "We heard about the oil of oregano, we heard about tea tree oil, we heard about potato poultice.
"Probably many of us would have called earlier but her belief system was such that she made every effort."
"She believed in the remedies. She was wrong, her judgement was wrong and as such she waited to call the doctor but I say that doesn't raise that conduct to criminal standard."
Hepner said evidence shows Lovett was a loving mother and didn't mean for him to suffer any harm.
"She did not abandon this child. I would say that we do not punish the morally innocent and I would respectfully submit that's where Tamara Lovett's conduct lies."
Lovett told police officers she thought Ryan was suffering from the cold or flu but he seemed to be getting better.
Just a couple of days before he died, he was complaining of pain in his leg, his eyes became jaundiced and he couldn't stand on his own, she said during a police interview.
Called 911 after son collapsed
She said she called 911 after he began convulsing and collapsed.
But Justice Kristine Eidsvik questioned Hepner and noted that the issue isn't whether Lovett was an attentive or loving mother. She said the question is when would a reasonable person have called in a doctor.
"Didn't she have a duty to go in there and get him checked out? Where does it say that a parent has to be an infectious disease doctor? Nowhere. I think the duty is about the parent going in and getting some advice and that's where I see trouble with your argument here," Eidsvik said.
"Clearly she had no intent to hurt Ryan. I'm prepared to accept that but there is a duty on her when there are all these symptoms. In terms of her belief system and using all of these alternative medicines, which may help, clearly it's not penicillin."
The Crown will deliver its closing submissions Friday afternoon.
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