The judge who decided to grant an Oxford university student a suspended sentence, after she admitted to stabbing her boyfriend, is now under investigation.
A Judicial Conduct Investigations Office (JCIO) spokesman confirmed on Friday that it received a complaint against Judge Ian Pringle QC who, earlier this week, granted Lavinia Woodward a suspended sentence because she was “too clever.”
“The JCIO can confirm they have received a complaint against HHJ Ian Pringle QC,” the spokesman confirmed, as cited by Sky News. “Any findings of misconduct against judicial office holders are published on the JCIO website at the conclusion of investigations.”
Woodward, 24, was on trial for stabbing her ex-boyfriend with a knife, punching him in the face and throwing a glass jar at him during a drunken rampage in December 2016.
The victim, Cambridge Ph.D. student Thomas Fairclough, needed three stitches after the attack.
Woodward’s defense lawyer urged the judge to give her a conditional discharge due to her “unique vulnerability, remorse, and good character,” adding “she can’t even go to a nightclub in London, she’s so recognizable.”
Woodward, who admitted to unlawful wounding at Oxford Crown Court, which could garner a maximum prison sentence of five years, was sentenced to just 10-months in prison, however, she was granted a suspended sentence of 18 months meaning she would never have to spend time in jail unless she violates the conditions of her release or commits another offense.
Judge Pringle called her an “extraordinarily able young lady,” who was “too clever” to be put in prison and it would be “too severe” as it might ruin her promising medical career.
“Fortunately the wounds your partner received were relatively minor. The two [half-inch] cuts to the fingers were treated at the scene and the cut to the leg was closed with three stitches,” he said on Monday. “At the time of the offense, you were heavily under the influence of alcohol. You were old enough and intelligent enough to realize that overindulgence would severely affect your behavior.”
Not only did Pringle decide she shouldn’t go to prison because of her intellect, he also ignored the fact that Woodward breached her bail conditions by texting her victim to apologize. Pringle instead praised her for showing remorse.
“You have no previous convictions of any nature whatsoever. I find that you were genuinely remorseful following this event,” Pringle said. “Most significantly, you have demonstrated over the last nine months that you are determined to rid yourself of your addiction and have undergone extensive treatment and counseling.”
“You have demonstrated to me a strong, unwavering determination to do so despite enormous pressure under which you were put,” he added.
Allegedly, Woodward had attacked her victim twice before although she denied the previous assaults.
The ruling by Pringle caused controversy on many sides with some claiming Woodward was spared because of her privileged background and others claiming it was because domestic violence against men is not taken seriously.
Unfortunately, as the JCIO states on its website, it can “only deal with complaints about a judicial office holder’s person conduct – it cannot deal with complaints about judicial decisions or about case management.”
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