Woodward will be sentenced at Oxford Crown Court in SeptemberKaihsu Tai

An Oxford University student who stabbed her boyfriend, a student at the University of Cambridge, may be spared jail time because of “her extraordinary talent”, Oxford Crown Court heard.

Lavinia Woodward, 24, who studied medicine at Christ Church College, Oxford, stabbed her Cambridge-educated boyfriend in the leg with a breadknife on 30th December last year following an argument.

The medical student punched the victim before stabbing him and hurling a laptop, glass and a jam jar at him, in an alcohol and drug-fuelled row.

The pair had had an argument, during which the victim threatened to call Woodward’s mother, to which his then-girlfriend retaliated with physical violence.

The victim is known to be a PhD student at the University of Cambridge. The pair had started dating earlier that term after meeting on the dating app, Tinder.

“It seems to me that if this was a one-off, a complete one-off, to prevent this extraordinarily 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.”

Although Judge Ian Pringle QC said the offence would normally entail a custodial sentence, he said he would be taking exceptional measures to defer the sentence for four months.

Judge Pringle then went on to hint that she would not be jailed because of her “extraordinary” talent.

He said, “It seems to me that if this was a one-off, a complete one-off, to prevent this extraordinarily 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.

“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.”

Christ Church College will allow her to return to her studies in the coming academic year because she is “that bright”, having had several articles published in medical journals, the court heard.

However Jim Sturman QC, defending Woodward, said it was “almost impossible” that she would be able to become a surgeon, as her criminal conviction would have to be made known.

Prior to sentencing on 25 September, Woodward has been given a restraining order, and a warning to remain drug-free and not to reoffend.

A spokesman for Christ Church College declined to comment on the circumstances of individual students.

Since the hearing, Mark Brooks, chairman of the Mankind initiative which supports male victims of domestic abuse, said the judge’s comments would make 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.”

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.

“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”

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