Oxford student who stabbed boyfriend could be spared jail

By Lucy Pasha-Robinson, Independent.co.uk

Oxford University has said there is “no guarantee” that the medical student who stabbed her boyfriend in a drug-fuelled rage will be able to return to her studies.

Aspiring heart surgeon Lavinia Woodward admitted to a charge of unlawful wounding at Oxford Crown Court after she stabbed her Cambridge-educated boyfriend in the leg before hurling a laptop, glass and a jam jar at him at Christ Church college, Oxford.

It had been suggested that the university would allow the 24-year-old to resume her studies. However, Christ Church has since revealed that it warned Woodward that “any more drug-taking, or misconduct of any other kind, would indeed result in expulsion” after it was discovered she had been taking cocaine last September, it was reported.

She went on to stab boyfriend Thomas Fairclough, who she had met on the dating app Tinder, in a drug and drink-fuelled row.

A university spokesman told The Sunday Times that comments suggesting she could resume her studies “were the judge’s not the college’s”. They added that there was “no guarantee of a return” and emphasised “the context is obviously extremely serious.”

It comes after Judge Ian Pringle said he would be willing to take an “exceptional” course and defer her sentencing so as not to prevent her from entering the medical profession. “It seems to me that if this was a one-off, a complete one-off, to prevent this extraordinary, able young lady from not following her long-held desire to enter the profession she wishes to, would be a sentence which would be too severe,” he said.

“What you did will never, I know, leave you but it was pretty awful, and normally it would attract a custodial sentence, whether it is immediate or suspended.”

There’s a troubling inequality at the heart of our justice system
Defending QC James Sturman said Woodward was a drug addict and her dreams of becoming a surgeon were “almost impossible” as her conviction would have to be disclosed. He said that Woodward had had a “very troubled life” and had been abused by an ex-boyfriend.

However the decision by the judge has been heavily criticised, with many questioning whether the same action would have been taken if the defendant had come from a less privileged background.

Woodward will be sentenced on 25 September. She was also issued with a restraining order and told to remain drug-free.

(Originally appeared at The Independent, click here for more)

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