Student who stabbed boyfriend may avoid jail as it would ‘damage her career’

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An Oxford University student who stabbed her boyfriend with a bread knife may not go to jail because it could damage her prospects of a medical career, a court has heard.

Aspiring heart surgeon Lavinia Woodward, 24, punched and stabbed her boyfriend during an alcohol-and-drug-fuelled row at Christ Church College. She admitted unlawfully wounding the Cambridge University student, who she met on the dating app Tinder.

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.

“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,” he said.

Woodward, who lives in Milan, Italy, with her mother, stabbed her then-boyfriend in the leg after punching him in the face. She then hurled a laptop, glass and jam jar at him during the attack on 30 September last year, the court heard. She was in court to hear the judge’s comments.

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.

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.

Woodward will be sentenced on 25 September. She was given a restraining order and told to stay drug-free and not to reoffend.

A spokesman for Christ Church said: “I’m afraid that Christ Church does not comment on the circumstances of individual students.”

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