Sparing prison for clever student 'sends wrong signal to victims'

Victims’ groups have warned that a decision not to jail an Oxford University student who stabbed her boyfriend because of her “extraordinary” talent for medicine could set back attempts to encourage others who suffer domestic violence to come forward.

Lavinia Woodward, 24, who studied at Christ Church College, Oxford, stabbed her boyfriend Thomas Fairclough in the leg on December 30 last year following a drink and drug-fuelled row.

The pair, who had met on the dating site Tinder, had a row and when Mr Fairclough, a Cambridge PHD student, threatened to call Woodward’s mother she punched him before picking up a bread knife and stabbing him in the leg.

She admitted a charge of unlawful wounding at Oxford Crown Court and on Tuesday Judge Ian Pringle said the offence would normally mean a custodial sentence.

But he deferred sentencing for a period of four months and hinted that she would not be jailed – because of her ”extraordinary” talent.

He said: “It seems to me that if this was a one-off, a complete one-off, to prevent this extraordinarily 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.

“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.”

But victims’ groups have said the judge’s comments send entirely the wrong signal to others who have suffered from similar assaults, particularly male victims of domestic violence who are already reluctant to come forward.

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