Two top Scottish lawyers have hit out at the decision not to jail Oxford medical student Lavinia Woodward after she stabbed her boyfriend in the leg with a bread knife.
Miss Woodward was spared prison despite pleading guilty to unlawfully wounding after stabbing her boyfriend in the leg whilst under the influence of alcohol and drugs. Judge Ian Pringle described Miss Woodward as “extraordinary” while conveying that time in prison may harm her hopes to become a heart surgeon.
The verdict has raised concerns about inequality in the UK Criminal Justice System.
Dundee based lawyer, Duncan Mackinnon, feels the sentence was “incredible” from a Scottish point of view. He believes the judge placed a lot of his decision on the chances of Lavinia possibly becoming a surgeon with or without a custodial sentencing on her record.
However, Matthew Berlow, Glasgow based criminal lawyer feels the verdict was completely fair and argues that the judge will have taken a lot of different factors into consideration. Mr Berlow said : “Sometimes the system works and sometimes it doesn’t. If you want an unfair justice system go to Saudi Arabia ”.
Opposingly, Mr Mackinnon conveyed how many careers in Scotland such as nursing and teaching would be closed to anyone with a conviction of violence regardless of the sentencing and feels Lavinia has been given special treatment in the courtroom.
Mr Mackinnon said : “All sorts of people are jailed regardless of the ramifications on their current employment let alone their future prospects.”
An online petition to remove Judge Ian Pringle and ‘restore faith in the justice system’ now has over 500 signatures. Signers are also petitioning to highlight that ‘domestic violence against males is as wrong as it is against females’.
However lawyer Matthew Berlow feels that : “gender has nothing to do with it”.
He said the same verdict would have been made regardless of the attacker’s gender and that there must have been ‘compelling circumstances’ heard by the judge.
Judge Pringle openly admitted that he stopped Laviana from going to prison because she had no previous convictions and may become a great help to society through her studies.
Nicolle Cassels, Reporter.