LONDON – A British judge has deferred sentencing an Oxford University student who pleaded guilty to stabbing her boyfriend in a drug-fueled argument, after remarking that the “extraordinary” woman might not be able to become a surgeon.
Oxford Crown Court Judge Ian Pringle last week put off sentencing 24-year-old Lavinia Woodward until September. He suggested he might not give her a custodial sentence.
“It seems to me that if this was a one-off, a complete one-off, to prevent this extraordinary, 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,” the Oxford Times reported Pringle as saying.
The case caused a stir among Britain’s newspapers, with the Sun tabloid reporting that Woodward was “too brainy to be jailed.”
But Francis FitzGibbon, the Criminal Bar Association chair, said Wednesday that a number of mitigating circumstances likely contributed to Pringle’s decision to give her a chance to address her drug addiction before sentencing. Besides showing remorse, Woodward pleaded guilty, had no previous convictions and was involved in a single incident.
“To seize upon a single throwaway remark by the judge is probably unfair because it doesn’t represent the process,” he said.