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