It is tempting – though apparently naive – to consider the justice system an institution in which grey areas do not exist, where there are cut and dry rules that are followed, regardless of extenuating circumstance or other factors that might influence a decision elsewhere in life.
Unfortunately, precisely because of our human nature, circumstances can conspire against even the most benign among us, and the justice system is no stranger to such a notion. Perhaps the reason it is so seductive to consider the institution of the upholding of the law infallible is because the alternative – that mistakes leading to injustice – can be made, is terrifying to consider.
In a perfect world, the good guys walk free, the bad guys get their just desserts and everyone continues with their lives, safe in the knowledge that justice has been upheld. As has been well documented and oft-lamented, though, we don’t live in a perfect world, and so every now and then the reverse of what we consider just and true will occur. The case of Lavinia Woodward, though, is far from being so clear cut; certainly not one that can be viewed in irrational terms of good and bad.
While some will feel that the recent and much pored over case of an Oxford medical student is in danger of turning into a regrettable miscarriage of justice, others will feel that a ruling in her favour could prevent a different kind of injustice.
Lavinia Woodward is a 24-year-old woman, who was studying at Christ Church College, Oxford. Last year, though, she stabbed her boyfriend in the midst of a blazing row that occurred after a night of partying and heavy drinking. The argument escalated into fisticuffs when Woodward allegedly punched her boyfriend before stabbing him with a bread knife and flinging a laptop, glass and jam jar at him.
The court was told that Woodward’s boyfriend, whose name has not been released, had warned her that he would phone her mother due to her alarmingly erratic behaviour on December 30th 2016. Woodward has admitted a charge of unlawful wounding at Oxford Crown Court, a charge that would typically bring about a custodial sentence for the defendant.
Judge Ian Pringle, though, has delayed sentencing for four months and asserted that Woodward might not receive a custodial sentence – which could mean jail time – or even a suspended sentence for her actions.
It seems to be that if this was a one-off, a complete one-off, to prevent this extraordinarily 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.
It is reported that Woodward has had material published in medial journals such as Annals of Thoracic Surgery, Hypertension and The Journal of Physiology, though defending QC James Sturman has claimed that she is a drug addict and that her conviction would make it “almost impossible” for her to achieve her dream of becoming a surgeon.
The 24-year-old is thought to be on holiday in Barbados at present time, though was present for the initial sentencing hearing. She will learn her fate when she is sentenced on September 25th.