An Oxford University student who stabbed her boyfriend during a drunken row could avoid going to jail because it may damage her hopes of pursuing a medical career, it has emerged.
Hinting that she may be spared a jail sentence the judge in her case said that aspiring heart surgeon Lavinia Woodward, 24, was such an "extraordinarily able young lady" that it would be unfair to give her a sentence that could impede her future career.
Ms Woodward, who now lives in Milan, Italy, has admitted punching her former boyfriend and stabbing him in the leg with a bread knife during an alcohol-and-drug-fuelled row on September 30 last year.
The court heard that Ms Woodward also hurled a laptop, glass and jam jar at her Cambridge-educated boyfriend during the row at Christ Church college, Oxford.
Judge Ian Pringle, presiding, said on Tuesday that a jail sentence could be "too severe" a punishment for the student as a conviction would be something she would have to disclose to potential employers in future.
He said: "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."
The judge has delayed sentencing for a period of four months, until September 25, but Ms Woodward was handed a restraining order and told to stay drug-free and not to re-offend.
Christ Church college has said it will not comment on individual students but the court was told Ms Woodward will be allowed her to return to the college in October to continue her studies.