A judge who told an Oxford student who stabbed her boyfriend that she may avoid jail because it would damage her career has been condemned by a men’s domestic abuse charity.
Lavinia Woodward, 24, who hopes to become a heart surgeon, punched and stabbed Thomas Fairclough in the leg with a bread knife after an alcohol-fuelled row at Christ Church College.
Woodward admitted at Oxford Crown Court to unlawfully wounding Mr Fairclough, 24, who she met on the dating app Tinder.
The court heard she also punched him in the face and hurled a laptop, glass and jam jar at him during the row in September 2016.
Judge Ian Pringle said he would take an “exceptional” course and defer sentencing for four months.
“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,” he said.
Defending Woodward earlier in the case, James Sturman said her dreams of becoming a surgeon were “almost impossible” as her conviction would have to be disclosed.
He said she had lived a troubled life and was abused by a previous boyfriend.
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.
Mr 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.”