Judge cleared in probe over let-off for knife at­tack stu­dent

Daily Express - - NEWS - By David Pilditch

Wood­ward was not sent to jail by Judge Pringle, right A JUDGE who re­fused to jail a tal­ented Ox­ford Univer­sity stu­dent who had stabbed her boyfriend was him­self cleared of any wrong­do­ing last night.

The ju­di­cial watch­dog dis­missed three com­plaints against Ian Pringle QC, who had spared Lavinia Wood­ward, 24, prison to pro­tect her fu­ture ca­reer.

The com­plaints were thrown out be­cause they did not re­late to the per­sonal con­duct of the judge, the Ju­di­cial Con­duct In­ves­ti­ga­tions Of­fice said.

On Mon­day the judge handed Wood­ward a 10-month prison sen­tence – sus­pended for 18 months – for knif­ing her then part­ner in a drunken as­sault.

Wood­ward, a med­i­cal stu­dent at Christ Church col­lege, was due to be sen­tenced ear­lier this year after ad­mit­ting un­law­ful wound­ing, but the judge gave her four months to prove her­self and stay out of trou­ble.

Ox­ford Crown Court heard Wood­ward was later ad­mit­ted to a clinic for treat­ment for ad­dic­tions to Class A drugs and al­co­hol, and an eat­ing dis­or­der.

A JCIO spokesman said: “We re­ceived and re­jected three com­plaints against HHJ Pringle QC. They were re­jected be­cause they re­lated to an in­de­pen­dent ju­di­cial de­ci­sion, not con­duct.”

The watch­dog’s web­site states it can only deal with com­plaints about a ju­di­cial of­fice-holder’s “per­sonal con­duct”, not about “ju­di­cial de­ci­sions or case man­age­ment”.

The judge had sparked fury when he ruled a jail term would be “too se­vere” for Wood­ward.

He said the “ex­tra­or­di­nary” stu­dent should not be pre­vented from “fol­low­ing her long-held de­sire to en­ter the pro­fes­sion she wishes to”. Crit­ics ac­cused him of giv­ing her pref­er­en­tial treat­ment – in ef­fect, rul­ing she was too clever to be sent to jail. And cam­paign­ers against do­mes­tic vi­o­lence said the sen­tence sent “a wor­ry­ing mes­sage”.

Wood­ward had ad­mit­ted stab­bing Thomas Fair­clough in the thigh with a bread knife, punch­ing him and hurl­ing ob­jects, in­clud­ing a lap­top.

The Cam­bridge Univer­sity PhD stu­dent, 25, needed three stitches and suf­fered cuts to his fin­gers after the at­tack while he vis­ited Wood­ward at univer­sity on De­cem­ber 30 last year.

Pic­tures: DAVID HEDGES/SWNS

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