A seemingly not too notorious criminal case made its way into the news. Twenty four year old Lavinia Woodward, a student at Oxford University, stabbed her boyfriend in the leg with a bread knife. She was apparently angry at him for telling her mom she had been drinking. She pled guilty to unlawful wounding. The offence carries a max jail time of 5 years.
The judge however, Ian Pringle, just gave her a short suspended sentence noting there were mitigating factors. These included that she had no previous criminal convictions and that she was, “genuinely remorseful”. Some British newspapers complained that the sentence was much too lenient and that she received special consideration given her connection to the elite university. I agree.
Parsing the decision, the judge is saying, “You have never done anything like this before. That’s a novel consideration. And you tell me your are really sorry and you will not do it again. That’s good enough for me. Mitigating factors. Given these circumstances we shall overlook the fact that you attacked your boyfriend with a bread knife, replicating that iconic scene from Psycho”.
To be fair, Pringle J also found that she had some eating disorder. Then again she did not plead not guilty by reason of insanity It’s not like the evidence was that she took out that bread knife and approached her boyfriend with intent to slice him up believing that he was a double rye. This would be a different story.
I wonder as well, re that eating disorder, if she garnered some sympathy given that the judge’s name was Pringle. Who knows? (Personally I prefer Miss Vickie’s).
This event certainly adds another dimension to Stephen Leacock's classic humourous essay, “Oxford as I See it.”
There is another story out of Saudi Arabia, where somehow someway some high school textbooks ended up photo-shopped a bit, containing an image of the late King Faisal signing the U.N. Charter in 1945 BUT sitting next to him is Yoda.
Naturally a senior official has been fired. Were this official to start a wrongful dismissal action, I don’t give him the chance of a snowball in the Sahara. I am sure there would be a finding of just cause. In fact it would also not surprise me that there is even some legal precedent where an employee gets canned for allowing infiltration into a school textbook of a photograph of a king sitting next to a Jedi master. I have not done a Quicklaw search.
The education minister is totally besides himself saying it was all an “unintended mistake.” I don’t know what will happen to him. Given the egg on his face, he might stand a good chance for some leniency if he would appear before judge Pringle.
I am now retired from the practice of law after almost 43 years in the profession. I now have time and leisure to laugh even more. I would be delighted to speak about using humour, avoiding trouble or otherwise amuse you at your next event. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And coming soon, my new book, Poutine on the Orient Express: An Irreverent Look at Travel