An Oxford University student dubbed “too clever to go to prison” has walked free after stabbing her ex-boyfriend in a drug-fueled frenzy — but moaned that she can’t go clubbing without being recognized.
Aspiring heart surgeon Lavinia Woodward ran out of court with a big smile on her face Monday after being handed a suspended sentence.
Wearing a black suit and white blouse, she appeared in the glass-paneled dock before the judge at Oxford Crown Court.
Flanked by a female security guard, she wept and dabbed her eyes with a tissue as the judge sentenced her to 10 months in prison, suspended for 18 months.
Defense lawyer James Sturman urged the judge to give Woodward a conditional discharge due to her “unique vulnerability, remorse and good character.”
He said: “She can’t even go to a nightclub in London, she’s so recognizable.”
Judge Ian Pringle previously said a custodial sentence may be “too severe” because it could ruin Woodward’s promising medical career after she admitted to unlawfully wounding Cambridge University student Thomas Fairclough.
On Monday the judge said: “Fortunately the wounds your partner received were relatively minor. The two [half-inch] cuts to the fingers were treated at the scene and the cut to the leg was closed with three stitches.”
“At the time of the offense, you were heavily under the influence of alcohol. You were old enough and intelligent enough to realize that overindulgence would severely affect your behavior.”
“You have no previous convictions of any nature whatsoever. I find that you were genuinely remorseful following this event.”
“Most significantly, you have demonstrated over the last nine months that you are determined to rid yourself of your addiction and have undergone extensive treatment and counseling.”
“You have demonstrated to me a strong, unwavering determination to do so despite enormous pressure under which you were put.”
The court heard that Woodward broke her bail conditions by contacting Fairclough to apologize for stabbing him, but the judge praised her for doing this.
He also commended her “strong and unwavering determination” to address her issues in the face of enormous public pressure.
When the judge told her she was free to go, Woodward mouthed the words “Thank you” and hurried from the dock in a flood of tears.
Her family told her to keep her “head held high” as she left court, making no comment.
She grinned as she ran out of the courtroom to celebrate her freedom.
The court heard she attempted suicide in police custody on the night of her arrest and was fired from a job she took at a shop in London 48 hours after being hired when she was recognized by a custoer.
While on bail, she spent four weeks in a secure drug rehabilitation center and doctors’ reports confirm she has stayed clean.
She also took off to spend summer enjoying a luxury lifestyle in the Italian fashion capital of Milan.
In a bid to get away from scrutiny, she stayed at her family’s $2 million villa near the city and was often seen carrying a $1,350 Chanel bag.
She spent her days browsing in clothing stores or having her hair done.
“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,’’ Pringle said.
Woodward stabbed Fairclough in the leg with a bread knife and hurled a laptop, glass and jam jar at him when they argued.
Prosecutor Cathy Olliver said Woodward met her ex, a Cambridge doctoral student, on Tinder.
She said on Sept. 30, 2016, the night of the attack, they argued and Woodward’s behavior “deteriorated.”
When Fairclough threatened to contact Woodward’s mom on Skype, the 24-year-old attacked him.
Sturman said his client’s dreams of becoming a surgeon were “almost impossible” as her conviction would have to be disclosed.
At a hearing in May, the judge hinted he would show leniency to the “extraordinarily able young lady” because her actions appeared to be “a complete one-off.”
At the time, Pringle told Woodward: “It seems to me that if this was a one-off, a complete one-off, to prevent this extraordinarily able young lady from following her long-held desire to enter the [medical] profession she wishes to would be a sentence which would be too severe.”
He delayed sentence as he did not want to ruin her chances of a successful career.
Woodward was slapped with a restraining order and told to stay drug-free and not to re-offend before returning to court for sentencing Monday.
Following the hearing, Mark Brooks, chairman of the Mankind Initiative, which supports male victims of domestic abuse, said the judge’s comments would make it more difficult for men to come forward for fear of not being taken seriously.
Brooks said: “The judge’s comments are completely unacceptable and out of touch. This is a clear case of severe domestic abuse against a man and the focus and 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. It only serves to reinforce society’s continuing empathy gap between male and female victims and the message the judge sends is that this is right.”
“It also makes it harder for men to come forward and get help because many fear not being taken seriously when they do — just because they are a man. This does nothing to change that view.”
It emerged earlier this year that Woodward had stripped naked with her Oxford pals in support of the university’s LGBTQ society.
An image showing Woodward perched on the lap of a naked man was exposed soon after a judge said he would not jail Woodward for stabbing Fairclough.
Friends said she turned “dark” and posted the nude selfies on Facebook after getting hooked on drugs.
A former school pal told the Sun: “After she went to Oxford, she turned weird. She became all dark and gothic and it was obvious she was into drugs.”
“It quickly got around that she was hooked on cocaine and, in a bid to beat it, went into rehab.”
“She posted naked pictures of herself on Facebook which was completely out of character for the girl I went to school with.”
The court heard Woodward had a “very troubled life,” battling addiction and suffering abuse by another ex.