A medical student who was dubbed ‘too clever for prison’ is thought to have exploited a loophole in the Oxford University disciplinary process to avoid expulsion.
Lavinia Woodward, 24, was handed a 10-month prison sentence, suspended for 18 months, for stabbing her boyfriend in the leg.
Due to the university’s disciplinary procedures, a staff panel that will decide whether she should be expelled cannot make their ruling until she states her desire to return.
It had been thought that Woodward would leave the university voluntarily.
Lavinia Woodward smiles as she leaves court yesterday. The case has caused controversy with critics saying she appears to have been treated leniently because she is a wealthy woman
Woodward (pictured here on a night out) wept as the judge handed her a suspended sentence
Her legal counsel, James Sturman, QC, said she was ‘reluctant’ to return because she was feared for being recognised.
Now, due to a prolonged period of uncertainty, there are fears the 24-year-old is playing for more time in order to improve her chances of readmission to Oxford.
It comes one month after she walked free from court after Judge Ian Pringle QC ruled that a custodial sentence would be too harsh for a woman of her ability.
Woodward (pictured left and right) looked relieved as she left Oxford Crown Court this afternoon with a suspended sentence
Woodward had pleaded guilty to unlawful wounding earlier this year for stabbing her ex-boyfriend and Cambridge student Thomas Fairclough.
Oxford Crown Court heard she stabbed him in the leg with a breadknife while under the influence of drugs and alcohol.
Judge Pringle’s ruling outraged quality activists who questioned whether such a lenient sentence would have been imposed should a working-class student have been involved.
They also said that, due to the high-profile nature of the case, that it could deter other victims of domestic to come forward.
Woodward (circled) posed naked with her fellow students to raise money for the university’s LGBTQ society
The 24-year-old (shown left in an explicit picture sitting on the lap of a naked man) is seen arriving at court this morning
Since the trial, Woodward is reported to have returned home to her parents’ villa in Italy.
She is also undergoing drug rehabilitation which is said to have prompted a substantial change to her character.
A source at Oxford University told The Telegraph that both the Medical faculty and Proctor’s office would be forced to wait until 2019 before they reached a decision.
They added that Woodward could be trying to ‘set the terms’ of the process so that she is looked on more favourably once she completes her sentence.
The case caused outcry, with critics saying she would have been treated differently were she not a wealthy Oxford student
But they highlighted that the will be forced through the same rigorous disciplinary procedures regardless of how much time passes.
A friend of the 24-year-old claimed Woodward had ‘an awful lot of institutional support’ and that academics recognised her as a ‘potential Nobel Price winner’.
The unnamed chum added: ‘She has the backing of a number of senior figures at Christ Church.’
They said that Woodward is already in conversations to do a DPhil at Oxford.
Miss Woodward (pictured) has spent much of her time at her mother’s Italian villa near Lake Como since her first court appearance
But they added: ‘ There obviously is a safety concern associated with somebody who has pleaded guilty to unlawful wounding being in an educational environment. Clearly she’s been having help, but it’s up to college officials to decide whether it’s safe for us for her to come back.’
Woodward’s solicitors said they have no comment to make about their client’s personal life.
Judge’s controversial comments sparked national debate
Judge Ian Pringle, pictured right, sparked a national debate about sentencing and the criminal justice system when he postponed Woodward’s sentencing in May.
The told Oxford Crown Court: ‘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.
‘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.’