Delay in sentencing for mom in son’s strep death

Delay in sentencing for mom in son’s strep death

CALGARY — An Alberta judge expressed frustration Monday over a delay in the sentencing for a woman who treated her son with holistic remedies before he died of a strep infection.

Justice Kristine Eidsvik in January found Tamara Lovett guilty of criminal negligence causing death. The judge said Lovett “gambled away” the life of her seven-year-old son Ryan by diagnosing what remedies would be useful without seeking medical help.

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.

A delay in a psychiatric report ordered in late January has pushed her sentencing hearing to Sept. 21.

“Here we are June and we can’t get back together until September,” said Eidsvik, who added the court should have been informed by the psychiatrist that the review was going to be delayed.

“We could have rebooked this weeks ago and we could have got this done sooner. I know this is not good for the administration of justice,” she said.

“It’s not good having this hanging over your head one way or another, so it’s all very disappointing.”

Crown prosecutor Jonathan Hak said the request for the report was sent almost immediately. He said the problem was with Alberta Health Services.

“The psychiatric assessment has not yet been completed,” Hak said.

“The delay occurred … due to some administrative issues in their office. It was originally assigned to someone else to do the work. That person for legitimate reasons was unable to continue with that file and it was reassigned,” he added.

“It’s not a delay on the defence’s part, a delay on the Crown’s part. It’s a delay at the other end.”

The Supreme Court of Canada’s Jordan decision last year set out a framework for determining whether a criminal trial has been unreasonably delayed to the point where it has violated an accused’s charter rights.

The high court imposed a ceiling of 30 months for a case to make its way through superior courts and 18 months for provincial courts.

A Senate committee discussed the Jordan ruling in a report last week and said the Liberal government needs to give judges new tools to help courts deal with cases that take too long to get to trial.

“I looked through the Senate report to see if they said anything about sentencing and delays and they didn’t, but this is a huge issue,” said Eidsvik.

“Every time we order a psychiatric report we seem to be delayed. This has been five months.”

Lovett, 48, told police she thought her son had a cold or the flu.

Alberta’s chief medical examiner testified at Lovett’s trial that the boy’s body was full of group A streptococcus bacteria, which caused most of his major organs to fail.

— Follow @BillGraveland on Twitter

Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press

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