Thursday's news in 5 minutes.

1. Oxford University student who stabbed her boyfriend could be spared jail for being clever.

Aspiring heart surgeon Lavinia Woodward punched and stabbed her boyfriend with a bread knife in an “alcohol-and-drug-fuelled row” in September last year.

The man – whose name has been withheld – had met Lavinia on Tinder, and was attacked after he popped out to the chemist to collect his girlfriend’s medication. He said his girlfriend was in a “deteriorated” state when he returned from the shops.

According to The Guardian, the 24-year-old stabbed her then-partner after punching him in the face. She then “hurled a laptop, glass and jam jar” at him.


Now, the Oxford University student could be spared jailed because a judge thinks it could “damage her prospects” of her having a successful medical career.

Judge Ian Pringle QC told the Oxford crown court he would defer sentencing for four months, hinting that the student may not be jailed over the attack.

“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,” he told the court.

“What you did will never, I know, leave you, but it was pretty awful and normally it would attract a custodial sentence.”

Woodward is due to be sentenced on September 25, and has been given a restraining order and told to stay drug-free.

It’s believed she is currently on holiday in Barbados, and will be allowed to return to her studies later this year if she avoids a prison sentence.

2. How a random phone call caught a paedophile, decades after he abused a seven-year-old girl.


When Michael O’Brien phoned an insurance company to ask about his policy, he never expected the woman he had abused decades earlier to answer the phone.

According to the Herald Sun, Petra Whitehouse , now 46, realised she was speaking to her abuser when she asked him to confirm his name, date of birth and email.

“I asked him if he used to teach fencing in Melbourne and he said: ‘Yes’. When I told him who I was he said, ‘Oh you are the bubbly little girl from the German Club’.

“I just freaked out and I hung up the phone,” she told the Herald Sun.

She told police about the conversation and months later, after a follow-up call, 90-year-old O’Brien has been sentenced to a four-month jail term and put on the sex offenders register for life.


“It was so hard making that phone call,” she said.

“I can remember my heart was beating. I remember saying to him, ‘How could you have done this to me?’

“He didn’t deny anything. He told me I was the only one and he apologised to me.”

She was just seven years old when she was made to touch O’Brien – then 49 – indecently at his home in Melbourne during a private fencing lesson.

She reported the assault to police when she was 22, but was too scared to proceed with the charges. She said a “mighty weight” has been lifted after O’Brien’s sentence.

“These predators need to realise that their victim might have been this quiet little child back then, but they do grow up and come forward and they will come for you,” she said.

3. Sydney bus strike causes chaos for commuters.


Sydney bus passengers have been warned to make alternative travel plans as hundreds of bus drivers strike over a government privatisation plan.

The 24-hour stoppage began at midnight and will impact four depots in the areas to be privatised: Leichhardt, Burwood, Kingsgrove and Tempe.

The Rail, Tram and Bus Union has accused Transport Minister Andrew Constance of incompetence and says he backflipped on written assurances last year the routes wouldn’t be privatised, AAP reports.

“Members of the public should make alternative arrangements to travel to work and take their children to school,” RTBU spokesman Chris Preston said.

Mr Constance said he hoped a majority of drivers would show up for work.

“This call for a strike is about union bosses putting themselves before customers, egged on by the Labor party,” he said.

Mr Constance said inner west drivers would continue their employment under the new operator.


The plan would see the contract for Bus Region 6 – which runs 233 routes from Olympic Park in the city’s west to Kensington in the city’s southeast -put out to private tender to ensure a more reliable service.

The government will continue to set Opal fares and timetables and regulate safety standards once the routes are privatised.

4. Two men have been charged over the home invasion and bashing of a Melbourne woman.

Two men will appear in court on Thursday charged over the home invasion bashing of a woman in her Melbourne home, AAP reports.


Marisa Bonacci has a broken nose and other facial injuries after she was assaulted and restrained with a telephone cord during the incident at her home in Hillside on Tuesday afternoon.

The 55-year-old mother was thrown in a garage with her mouth taped shut as the two intruders stole her car.

Her daughter, Sarah, told Network Ten her mum was in her pyjamas when she found two men rummaging through her kitchen drawers.

“They just ran for her and tied her up,” she said.

Acting Inspector Cameron Reinke confirmed that the woman was sedated and recovering in hospital.

“My understanding is one offender may have been armed with a knife and she sustained a slight injury to her hand,” he said.

Two Melton men, aged 26 and 18, have been remanded in custody to appear in Melbourne Magistrates Court on charges including home invasion and armed robbery after they were arrested on Wednesday.

5. WikiLeaks source Chelsea Manning freed from US military prison after seven years.


Chelsea Manning has walked out of a US military prison on Wednesday, seven years after being arrested for passing secrets to WikiLeaks in the largest breach of classified information in US history.

Manning, 29, was released from the US Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, at about 2am, the US Army said in a brief statement.

“First steps of freedom!!” Manning wrote alongside a photograph of sneaker-clad feet that she published on social media.

Manning was convicted of providing more than 700,000 documents, videos, diplomatic cables and battlefield accounts to WikiLeaks, an international organisation that publishes such information from anonymous sources, while she was an intelligence analyst in Iraq.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, a target of criminal investigations in Sweden and the United States, had promised to accept extradition if Manning was freed. US Attorney General Jeff Sessions has said Assange’s arrest was a priority.


Former US president Barack Obama, in his final days in office, commuted the final 28 years of Manning’s 35-year sentence, effective four months later. That decision angered national security experts who say Manning put US lives at risk, but it won praise from transgender advocates who have embraced her transition to a female gender identity.

Once known as Private First Class Bradley Manning, she is likely to become a high-profile transgender advocate, said Chase Strangio, an American Civil Liberties Union lawyer who has represented her.

Manning announced her gender transition while the US Army was keeping her in the men’s prison and forcing her to wear a male haircut. She twice tried to commit suicide and faced long stretches of solitary confinement as well as denial of healthcare, Strangio said.

Last year, the US Defense Department lifted a long-standing ban against transgender men and women serving openly in the military. The Pentagon estimated it affected 7000 active-duty and reserve personnel.

In a statement to ABC News, Manning said she appreciated the support she had received from people all over the world.

“As I rebuild my life, I remind myself not to relive the past,” the statement said. “The past will always affect me, and I will keep that in mind while remembering that how it played out is only my starting point — not my final destination.”


Manning said in 2014 that she disclosed the classified information to expose truths about the civil war in Iraq “out of a love for my country.”

6. Aussies are spending half their food budget on ‘junk food’, research says.

Australian households are spending half their food budget on discretionary or ‘junk’ items and soft drinks, according to research.

Analysis of the Australian Health Survey found of the 58 per cent spent on ‘unhealthy’ foods, 14 per cent was used to buy takeaways and four per cent sugar-sweetened beverages.


Public health expert and dietitian Professor Amanda Lee from the Sax Institute , who will present her research at the Dietitians Association of Australia’s National Conference in Hobart, says the findings are worrying given poor diet is a leading cause of preventable illness.

“Less than four per cent of Australians eat adequate quantities of healthy foods, yet more than 35 per cent of their energy intake comes from discretionary foods and drinks, which provide little nutrition,” said Professor Lee.

The research also found that, although healthy diets cost 15 per cent less than current ‘unhealthy’ diets, people in low incomes still need to spend around a third of their disposable income to eat a healthy diet.

Professor Lee says food security is a real problem and will only worsen if healthy foods are made more expensive.

The former chair of the National Health and Medical Research Council’s Dietary Guidelines Working Committee has called for a coordinated approach to nutrition policy.

“At the moment, basic healthy foods like fresh vegetables and fruit are exempt from the GST but there’s been talk of extending this to all foods. If this were to happen, the cost of a healthy diet would become unaffordable for low-income families.”

Do you have a story to share with Mamamia? Email us