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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 September 2018

Oxford student avoids jail after stabbing her boyfriend with a bread knife

Lavinia Woodward was given a 10-month suspended sentence having pleaded guilty to a charge of unlawful wounding

Lavinia Woodward arrives at Oxford Crown Court to be sentenced for stabbing her boyfriend with a bread knife. Andrew Matthews/PA via AP
Lavinia Woodward arrives at Oxford Crown Court to be sentenced for stabbing her boyfriend with a bread knife. Andrew Matthews/PA via AP

A student at Oxford University was spared a jail sentence on Monday despite having stabbed her then boyfriend with a bread knife. Lavinia Woodward, 24, was given a 10-month suspended sentence having pleaded guilty to a charge of unlawful wounding of Thomas Fairclough.

The case has aroused much media attention in the United Kingdom because the judge hearing the case had suggested at an earlier hearing that Ms Woodward could avoid the possibility of jail time because he didn’t want to impact on her career prospects – she is studying to become a heart surgeon.

This led some British newspapers to claim that Ms Woodward was receiving special treatment because of her connection to Oxford, which last month was named the best university in the world in an authoritative study. The Sun, a downmarket tabloid, wrote that she was “too brainy to be jailed.”

She is currently studying at Oxford’s historic Christ Church college and has had articles published in medical journals. A friend told The Sun: “[The university] see her as someone worth the risk of having around. She might win a Nobel Prize, she is that intelligent.”

The incident happened on December 30, 2016. The judge said her boyfriend visited her, found out she had been drinking, and called her mother, which infuriated Ms Woodward. He said she then attacked him with a bread knife, stabbing him in the lower leg, before turning the knife on herself. He said the boyfriend intervened to prevent her from harming herself.

Mr Fairclough, 25, who was educated at Cambridge University, told a 999 operator: “I think my girlfriend has taken a lot of drugs and is throwing a lot of stuff around the house.”

Oxford Crown Court Judge Ian Pringle told Woodward on Monday that there were many “mitigating” factors that allowed him to suspend her sentence. “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.”

He also pointed out that experts had concluded she suffered from a personality disorder, a severe eating disorder and dependence on alcohol and drugs.

The judge credited her with being “determined” to get rid of her drug and alcohol addictions. At the time of the attack, Ms Woodward was said to be taking cocaine and MDMA.

“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 counseling to address the many issues that you face,” he said.

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