Sentencing has been postponed for Tamara Lovett, the Calgary mom convicted in the 2013 death of her seven-year-old son Ryan.
Lovett treated Ryan with dandelion tea and oil of oregano when he developed an infection that kept him bedridden for 10 days.
She was found guilty of criminal negligence causing death in January.
At a sentencing hearing Thursday, the Crown asked for between four and five years; the defence asked for one year plus probation. A Jordan application has been filed in the case, which is expected to be litigated Oct. 24.
The highly controversial case has sparked outrage from the public, renewing the debate surrounding holistic remedies.
But those who knew Lovett and her son are asking for some compassion ahead of Thursday’s hearing.
“They were inseparable; you would never see one without the other,” local artist Rich Theroux said.
“Like an Ernie and Bert twosome, Tamara and her son.”
Lovett and Ryan were a part of Calgary’s arts community. They would attend a weekly arts night at the Rumble House gallery, formally known as Gorilla House. There, artists are tasked with finishing an art project in two hours before their work is auctioned off.
“Ryan would be hanging out and making art with my son,” Theroux said. “There were kids and adults there. I think half of his best friends were adults.”
Theroux still vividly remembers the night he found out Ryan had passed.
“Everyone started crying and I couldn’t think of who it was,” Theroux said.
“I could only imagine 70-year-olds named Ryan, because seven-year olds don’t die — 70-year-olds die.”
During the course of the trial, court heard Lovett and her son lived in extreme poverty.
Barabara La Pointe, a former friend of Lovett, testified Lovett would often drop Ryan off at La Pointe’s home for extended periods of time while she did odd jobs.
La Pointe described the pair’s home as “a building of people living in the darkest realms of poverty.”
Theroux believes this tragic case highlights the need for more supports for marginalized people.
“I had no idea what their home life was like but I don’t think Tamara had a lot of support,” Theroux said. “I think we need to take care of moms.”
Court also heard Lovett failed to give the boy life-saving antibiotics. She told police officers she thought Ryan was suffering from a cold or the flu, and that he seemed to be getting better.
Just a couple of days before Ryan died, he was complaining of pain in his leg, his eyes became jaundiced and he couldn’t stand on his own.
Lovett testified she called 911 after he began convulsing and collapsed.
Theroux still can’t believe how quickly everything unfolded.
“I saw them the week before and Ryan looked fine to me,” Theroux said.
The maximum sentence for criminal negligence causing death is life in prison.
“Ms. Lovett did indeed know the level of Ryan’s suffering, but made the deliberate choice not to seek medical care,” Justice Kristine Eidsvik said in her January ruling.
“She gambled away Ryan’s life.”
No matter the outcome, Theroux believes Lovett has already paid the ultimate price.
“I don’t know what they want to take away from her at this point. She lost her little boy.”