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26 Sep 2017

Student told she was ‘too clever for prison’ after stabbing boyfriend spared jail

A student who was told she was ‘too clever’ for prison after stabbing her boyfriend with a bread knife has escaped jail.

Lavinia Woodward, a 24-year-old medical student at Oxford University, attacked her boyfriend with a bread knife in a drink and drug-fuelled attack.

After stabbing him in the leg, she then hurled a laptop, a glass and a jam jar at him at their college Christ Church.
Despite admitting the brutal, violent attack, Judge Ian Pringle QC told her in May that she was unlikely to go to prison.
At the time Judge Pringle delayed sentencing and gave her a restraining order.

Now, she has been given a 10-month prison sentence suspended for 18 months at Oxford Crown Court. This means that, unless she commits another offence within the next year and a half, she won’t be jailed.
Judge Pringle said: ‘There are many mitigating features in your case. Principally, at the age of 24 you have no previous convictions of any nature whatsoever.
‘Secondly, I find that you were genuinely remorseful following this event and, indeed, it was against your bail conditions, you contacted your partner to fully confess your guilt and your deep sorrow for what happened.
‘Thirdly, whilst you are a clearly highly-intelligent individual, you had an immaturity about you which was not commensurate for someone of your age.

‘Fourthly, as the reports from the experts make clear, you suffer from an emotionally-unstable personality disorder, a severe eating disorder and alcohol drug dependence.
‘Finally, and most significantly, you have demonstrated over the last nine months that you are determined to rid yourself of your alcohol and drug addiction and have undergone extensive treatment including counselling to address the many issues that you face.
‘In particular, you have demonstrated to me since I adjourned this matter in May a strong and unwavering determination to do so despite the enormous pressure under which you were put and which has been referred to me by your counsel.’
Her now ex-boyfriend was not in court for the sentencing.

In May, Judge Pringle sparked a major controversy by telling the court: ‘To prevent this extraordinary, able young lady from following her long-held desire to enter the profession she wishes to would be too severe.’

Mark Brooks, Chairman of the ManKind Initiative, a national charity supporting male victims of domestic abuse, said at the time: ‘The judge’s comments are completely unacceptable and out of touch.
‘This is a clear case of severe domestic abuse against a man and the focus and sympathy should be with him.
‘The judge seems to think that domestic abuse, when it is committed by a woman against a man, is not as serious as it rightly is when it is the other way round. This is wrong.’

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