Oxford student spared jail for stabbing Tinder date because of her career potential
An Oxford student who stabbed her boyfriend in a drug-fuelled rage has been spared jail by a judge who said he didn’t want to harm her career prospects.
Aspiring heart surgeon Lavinia Woodward, 24, received a 10-month prison sentence, suspended for 18 months, for stabbing her then partner with the knife.
Woodward, who has a history of cocaine and MDMA abuse, plunged a bread knife into Thomas Fairclough’s leg, who she met on Tinder eight months previously.
Woodward – awarded the highest first for many years at elite Christ Church College – also threw a laptop and glass jars at him and he needed four stitches to his wound.
The court heard she had started to self-harm and her barrister said she tried to kill herself in a prison cell.
Judge Pringle said her heavy drinking aggravated her crime but added there were ‘many’ mitigating features’ to her case.
He said she was “old enough and intelligent enough” to realise that “over-indulgence” would influence her behaviour.
He told her: “There are many mitigating features in your case. At the age of 24 you have no previous convictions.
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“I find that you were genuinely remorseful following this event, and although it was against your bail conditions you contacted your partner to fully confess your guilt and deep sorrow at what had happened.
“While you are a highly intelligent individual, you had an immaturity about you which is not commensurate for someone of your age.”
Woodward had shown a “strong and unwavering determination” to get rid of her addictions and eating disorder, the judge said.
He said the student had been introduced to Class A drugs from a “very damaging” previous relationship.
Defending, James Sturman QC said Woodward would be going back into rehab after the case had ended and had given up hope of returning to Oxford this year due to the publicity.
He said Woodward was considering whether to do a PhD abroad or look for a research role at another university.
Mr Sturman added: “She went off to rehab and engaged in deeply intrusive treatment, including for an eating disorder which has plagued her since she was nine years old.
“She has effectively been in custody for four weeks. She has been drug tested every week.”
Woodward’s former lover Mr. Fairclough, a PhD student, did not attend the hearing.
Wearing a demure white blouse, a black trouser suit and black pumps, Woodward wept in the dock and ran from the courtroom after the hearing ended.
College dean the Very Rev Professor Martyn Percy, said afterwards: “We are concerned for the welfare of all our students and it is clearly a matter of regret and sadness when any young person blights a promising career by committing a crime.
“Ms Woodward is not currently studying at Oxford, having voluntarily suspended her medical studies.
“The question of her future will now be decided by the university, which has procedures in place when a student is the subject of a criminal conviction.”