The Oxford University medical student who stabbed her boyfriend after taking cocaine, faces expulsion from her college, it has emerged.
An aspiring heart surgeon Lavinia Woodward, 24, who studied at Christ Church College, Oxford, stabbed her boyfriend Thomas Fairclough in the leg on December 30 last year. She appeared at Oxford Crown Court last week, where she admitted punching her boyfriend in the face and gashing him in the leg with a bread knife, during a drug fueled row.
Judge Ian Pringle QC, sitting at Oxford crown court, said he would take an “exceptional” course and defer sentence for four months, hinting that Woodward will not be jailed because of her talent. “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.
The court was told that Christ Church would allow her to return in October because she “is that bright” and has had articles published in medical journals.
A spokesman for Christ Church said: “I’m afraid that Christ Church does not comment on the circumstances of individual students.”
His comments led to speculation that she would be able to continue her studies at College.
But it has now emerged that Woodward had already been warned about drug taking by the college and had been told she would be expelled if there was any further incidents. “The context is obviously extremely serious.” It has emerged that prior to the attack, Woodward had been required to submit to regular drug testing by the college and had also been moved onto a research project where she had no contact with patients.
College could take action once the legal case has finished.
Mitigating, James Sturman QC said his client’s dreams of becoming a surgeon were “almost impossible” as her conviction would have to be disclosed. She had had a very troubled life and was abused by a previous boyfriend, he said.
On the other hand 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.
They 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.
“I think the Judge needs to be mindful of the way he sentences this case and his comments.” Male victims of domestic violence struggle to come forward due to the way society views them. If the Judge passes a lenient sentence, this will discourage victims from coming forward and reporting.”
“This case raises some serious questions on how we view female perpetrators of domestic violence and how the effects of the crime on the victim is being overshadowed by the impact the sentence could have on the perpetrator’s life.”
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