Oxford student Lavinia Woodward appeals suspended sentence over stabbing

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Dec 08, 2017
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Lavinia Woodward stabbed her boyfriend in the leg with a breadknife

Andrew Matthews/PA

An “extraordinarily able” student at Oxford University who was spared jail after stabbing her boyfriend is seeking to appeal against her suspended sentence.

Lavinia Woodward, 24, admitted unlawful wounding in her room at Christ Church, where she had been drinking heavily.

Judge Ian Pringle, QC, suspended her ten-month jail sentence in September, taking account of the “many mitigating features” in her case, including the damage to her career that immediate custody would cause.

She has now applied for permission to take her case to the Court of Appeal. 

The case prompted a debate about inequality in the criminal justice system after the judge deferred her sentence to give her a chance to prove that she was no longer addicted to drugs and alcohol.

Judge Pringle had described Woodward as “an extraordinarily able young lady” and said that sending her to prison would damage her hopes of becoming a surgeon. In his sentencing remarks he said that there were many mitigating features of the case and that she had shown “a strong and unwavering determination” to rid herself of her addictions.

Oxford crown court was told that in December 2016 Woodward had attacked her boyfriend, whom she met on the Tinder dating app. She was angry because he had contacted her mother on Skype when he realised she had been drinking. 

Woodward threw a laptop at him and stabbed him in the lower leg with a breadknife, also injuring two of his fingers. She then tried to stab herself with the knife before he disarmed her. 

Judge Pringle said that Woodward faced a possible sentence of three years in prison for a “category two” offence of unlawful wounding. The Judicial Conduct Investigations Office rejected three complaints against him in connection with the case.

A judge must now look at Woodward’s application and decide whether to grant her permission to appeal.

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