Oxford student Lavinia Woodward who was ‘too bright for jail’ after stabbing ex with bread knife challenges 'soft' sentence

Lavinia Woodward, 25, was handed a suspended sentence after a judge said she was 'too bright for jail', in a move that sparked widespread shock and fury.

And despite her narrow escape from a prison term, the wannabe heart surgeon was today seeking for her sentence to be downgraded even further.

However she failed in her latest bid to have her suspended sentence replaced with a fine or conditional discharge at the Court of Appeal.

It was the second time Woodward had tried to appeal her 10-month suspended sentence. In March this year the medical student had failed in her attempt to overturn the decision.


During her trial, Woodward was described as an 'extraordinarily able young lady' by judge Ian Pringle QC despite pleading guilty to unlawful wounding.

Oxford Crown Court heard how she attacked her then-partner, a Cambridge University student, in December 2016 while high on cocaine and alcohol.

He realised she had been drinking and when Woodward discovered he had contacted her mother she became 'extremely angry' and began throwing objects, before stabbing him in the leg with a bread knife.

Woodward, who admitted unlawful wounding, was sentenced last September.



She was due to be sentenced earlier but the judge gave her four months to prove herself and stay out of trouble.

Passing sentence on Woodward, who voluntarily suspended her studies at Oxford, Judge Pringle QC said there were 'many mitigating features' in her case and that he found she was 'genuinely remorseful'.

He told her: "Whilst you are a clearly highly intelligent individual, you had an immaturity about you which was not commensurate for someone of your age."


The judge’s leniency angered justice campaigners, who claimed she would have been sentenced differently if she was a man or came from a council estate.

Mark Brooks, of the Mankind Initiative charity for male abuse violence victims, blasted the judge’s leniency.

He said: “The comments are unacceptable and out of touch.

“This is a clear case of severe domestic abuse against a man and the 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.”

The Judicial Conduct Investigations Office (JCIO) rejected three complaints against Judge Pringle in connection with the case.

JUSTICE CAMPAIGNERS' FURY WITH LENIENT SENTENCE

The Oxford University medical student was handed a 10-month jail sentence suspended for 18 months following a trial.

Woodward got a suspended term after Judge Ian Pringle QC described her as 'an extraordinarily able young lady' and said sending her to prison would damage her hopes of becoming a surgeon.

The case caused an outcry, with critics saying she would have been treated differently were she not a wealthy Oxford student.

Mark Brooks, of the Mankind Initiative charity for male abuse violence victims, blasted the judge’s leniency.

He said: “The comments are unacceptable and out of touch. This is a clear case of severe domestic abuse against a man and the 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.”

John Azah, chief executive of the Kingston Race and Equalities Council said: "I always struggle with how the services legislate justice when it comes to Black Minority and Ethnic (BME) and white people.
"If she wasn't Oxford-educated, if she came from a deprived area, I don't think she would have got the same sentence and been allowed to walk free."

Meanwhile Michaela Booth, 27, a single mother, who was sentenced to prison for committing grievous bodily harm at the age of 19, said it was a “massive smack in the face” to see Woodward spared jail after committing a violent offence simply because she “wants to have a career”. Ms Booth grew up on a council estate in Worcester with two heroin addicts as parents.


Since the trial Woodward, who was educated at The British School of Milan, formerly known as The Sir James Henderson School, where fees can top £16,000 a year, is reported to have returned home to her parents' villa in Italy and has found love again with the son a Russian billionaire.

She is also undergoing drug rehabilitation which is said to have prompted a substantial change to her character.

The budding surgeon voluntarily suspended her studies at Oxford University which means a disciplinary panel cannot rule on whether to expel her until she decides to return.

She has been accused of attempting to 'set the terms' on whether she will be allowed to return to Oxford.

A friend of the 25-year-old claimed Woodward had the support of a number of senior figures at Christ Church College.

The unnamed friend said she had 'an awful lot of institutional support' and academics recognised her as a 'potential Nobel Prize winner'.

They said: "I think they would be happy to have her back, and that she will end up returning quietly. She's done some very interesting work in cardiology, they've described her as a future Nobel Prize winner."

They said Woodward is already in conversations to do a DPhil at Oxford.

JUDGE’S REMARKS SPARKED DEBATE ABOUT SENTENCING

Judge Ian Pringle QC sparked a national debate about sentencing and the criminal justice system when he postponed Woodward's sentencing in May.
The judge told Oxford Crown Court: '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.
'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.'



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