Oxford student who stabbed boyfriend loses appeal to challenge suspended sentence

Lavinia Woodward, 25, <span>admitted to stabbing Thomas Fairclough in the leg. </span>(PA)
Lavinia Woodward, 25, admitted to stabbing Thomas Fairclough in the leg. (PA)

A ‘promising’ Oxford university student who avoided prison after stabbing her boyfriend has lost a Court of Appeal bid to challenge her suspended sentence.

Lavinia Woodward, 25, admitted knifing Thomas Fairclough in the leg with a bread knife as well as throwing a glass, a jam jar and a laptop at him at Christ Church College in 2016.

The medical student admitted unlawful wounding and was given a 10-month prison term suspended for 18 months at Oxford Crown Court.

Rejecting her appeal, Judge Johannah Cutts said today: “We accept that she had powerful mitigation.

“This nonetheless remained a serious offence which, in our view, merited a custodial element to the sentence.

“It was by reason of the powerful mitigation that the judge was able to take an exceptional course and suspend the custodial term.

“It was a constructive and compassionate sentence.”

The incident happened in December 2016, when her then-boyfriend, Fairclough, a Cambridge university student, went to visit Woodward in Oxford.

After realising she’d been drinking, he contacted her mother.

When Woodward found out, she became ‘extremely angry’ and began throwing a variety of objects before stabbing him.


The aspiring heart surgeon, who voluntarily suspended her studies, was given four months before sentencing to prove she would stay out of trouble.

Judge Ian 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 said Woodward had ‘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 counselling to address the many issues that you face’.