News / Calgary

"It hurts so much" Trial hears interview of woman charged in son's death

CALGARY — A Calgary woman wept through much of her initial interview with police before she was charged in the death of her seven-year-old son.

Tamara Lovett, 47, is on trial charged with failing to provide the necessaries of life and with criminal negligence causing death.

Ryan Alexander Lovett died in March 2013 after getting a strep infection that kept him bedridden for 10 days. The trial has heard the seven-year-old was treated with dandelion tea and oil of oregano.

He died from massive organ failure. 

"Oh God. My poor little boy," Lovett said in an interview with police hours after he died at Alberta Children's Hospital.

"It's just flashing back. Why is this going on?" she asked in the interview played in court Thursday.

"I'm a failure. You do everything you can for your kids."

Much of the interview was unintelligible as she choked back the tears.

Lovett told the officer that her son had flu symptoms that worsened a couple of days before his death. He was complaining of pain in his legs, his skin became jaundiced, his urine was dark and he was having trouble standing.

She said he complained of stomach pains and she helped him into the bathroom.

"I put him back to bed and that's when I noticed his speech was starting to slur and I said, 'We're taking you to the hospital.'"

Lovett said as she was getting him dressed he collapsed and she called 911. He died later that morning in hospital of sepsis.

She said she wished she had put him in the car and taken him to hospital herself instead of waiting for paramedics to arrive.

"I know it's nobody's fault but it's just so unfortunate."

Lovett was described by her friends in court as a nurturing mother who gave up everything to take care of him.

"When I saw Ryan, he looked more angry and depressed. Personally, I actually thought he was faking it," said Lovett's friend Frank Keller, who was also the manager of the building she and Ryan lived in.

"This kid was going into a clingy-like panic attack. He would not let go of his mother. I was pissed off at Tamara for being over-nurturing, over-mothering, having to do everything for the kid, keeping herself glued to the kid."

Keller said Lovett had lived at the apartment for about five years and he knew her from the arts community. He said she was unable to find full-time work because she was caring for Ryan, and was $3,000 behind on her rent.

"I feel really, really bad with myself because I stood there on that last day looking out the window and looking at that kid and I'm pissed off that this kid's faking it. I'm looking at the kid and I'm saying, 'Why do you want to do this to your mother?'"

Harold Pendergrast, another of Lovett's neighbours who described himself as a portraitist, said he took care of Ryan the day before he died.

"He was usually a vibrant young man. He wasn't as vibrant," testified Pendergrast, who said he thought the boy was dealing with an "emotional burden" rather than something physical.

"I did not see sunken eyes and a child on the edge of death at all. Did I see anything physically wrong with that boy? Energy level. He wasn't out just ripping it up."

Lovett did not seem overly dismissive of conventional medicine, even though she used natural remedies to treat the boy, her friends said. They said she had taken antibiotics herself when a spider bite became infected.

Keller said it was obvious Lovett thought Ryan had a cold or the flu and felt she was treating him appropriately.

"She went through everything in life on her own. I think she was really convinced this was a cold and she could beat it with whatever she was doing."

Doctors have testified treatment with an antibiotic would have saved Ryan's life.

Lovett described Ryan to police as a healthy and happy boy.

"Smart, funny and always playing practical jokes. He liked to do art and he won't be doing any more art. Oh my God."

— Follow @BillGraveland on Twitter

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