Cambridge law student filmed on Snapchat torching £20 note in front of homeless man

He was wearing a bow tie and tails when he did it


A University of Cambridge law student has sparked outrage after allegedly attempting to burn a £20 note in front of a homeless man.

Footage shows a young male, wearing a white bow tie and tails, struggling to burn a banknote using a lighter.

The short clip — which was posted on Snapchat and subsequently spotted by student newspaper The Tab — then pans to a homeless man who appears to be stood outside a clothing shop in Cambridge city centre. The incident is said to have occurred in the the early hours of 2 February.

Images via The Tab
Images via The Tab

A number of news sites have named the young male as Cambridge law fresher Ronald Coyne.

According to reports, Coyne — who appears to have deleted or locked his LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram accounts — was an executive member of the Cambridge University Conservative Association (CUCA).

In a statement released yesterday afternoon, CUCA said that it was “aware of serious allegations against a member” and had chosen to “revoke his membership and bar him from all future events”.


The university declined to comment on the incident, but did reiterate its commitment “to respecting the rights and dignity of all members of our community”. Continuing, the spokesperson said:

We expect our students to treat others with respect, courtesy and consideration at all times, and the university takes allegations of unacceptable behaviour very seriously. We do not comment on individual cases.

Coyne, who attended Edinburgh’s Stewart’s Melville College, a top private school commanding fees of up to £21,000 a year, has, so far, remain tightlipped over the affair. However, in yet another bizarre twist to this story, Coyne’s mother has spoken out.

Speaking to the Mail Online, Sandra McLaughlin — who resides at the family home in Livingston, West Lothian — branded her son’s behaviour “thoughtless and cruel”. Revealing that he had been in touch shortly after the incident occurred, she told the news site that “I don’t recognise that behaviour in my son”.

Coyne, who is studying law at Cambridge’s historic Pembroke College, is also reported to be a “distant” relative of Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. A spokesperson for the Scottish government said:

There are six or seven degrees between them. He [Coyne] might go around saying he is her [Sturgeon] nephew but he’s not. She has no recollection of ever meeting him. Somewhere along the line his dad is the brother of the ex-husband of the sister of the First Minister’s husband.

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Utter twat.

But somewhat unfortunate that mentions of his name in connection with this will hang around online.

We’ve all done stupid and thoughtless things in our youth, although this is particularly repugnant.


Hardly thoughtless. A lot of thought went into it. Disgusting behaviour


No excuses- this is a known posh boys initiation thing.

Not the same as a throwaway comment or spur of the moment act.

Deserves everything he gets, but like most well connected types he’ll be fine, of course.



He’s allegedly not a ‘posh boy’ according to his mother , just in with a posh crowd and pretending . Idiot will have this permanently on his google history . In a way , I feel sorry for this generation as social media follows them , many others have done stupid things but it has not followed them around


Yeah, of course those who go to £21,000 a year schools aren’t posh.

The cost of living is so high these days, don’t you find?


I’m not ‘posh’ , grew up on a council estate and went to a fee paying school on a scholarship .


Since this bloke’s dad runs an oil company I doubt the 21k a year was paid on a scholarship. No-one ever thinks they’re rich or posh, on the bass they know someone else who is richer and posher.


Can’t sleep eh, Ronald?

Clowns keeping you awake?

I’m sure oil executives have to make many sacrifices to send their spawn to private school…


The stupid thing isn’t actually doing it, it’s recording it on video for posterity.


Burning a 20 pound note in front of a homeless person is akin to someone burning a chin in front of him.

Chin Chilla

☐ Not REKT
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“eREKTile dysfunction”

I laughed so hard I sharted my kecks.


I only ask as it’s not a problem for me because I wear Tena Slip Maxi adult nappies!


Ah, you wear them too for that problem?

Too close to home, Adam?

Jones Day Partner

If I saw this little runt getting robbed, I’d give the person robbing him an airtight alibi. Tighter than my trainee’s, uh, never mind.


Just lol’d at that in the middle of my supervisors con call.

Ronald Coyne

Ach wud ye way haeme tae yer mammies, sure I was just lighting ma cigar, when thon blowhard came oot o naewhere.

It’s all a storm in a tea cup. I gave the poor man a cigar and then I went up thae high Rd and he went doon thae low Rd.


When did Scotland get a Prime Minister? I thought she was First Minister.


Surprise surprise! A privileged Cambridge student with a public school background, displaying condescending and repugnant behaviour towards a less fortunate member of society…


Last time I checked private schools are called public schools in the UK.


Wrong – there is a distinction between fee paying ‘private’ and ‘public’ schools.


I don’t think anyone really uses that terminology any more, it’s ‘independent schools’ these days.


Look at the slimness of that wrist. These parasites purport to steer the ship of state and enterprise yet do they even lift?


I bet he can’t even squat his own body weight, the pathetic beta.


Fuck yea, let’s go eat clen and tren hard brah, get swooooooole!


Its a £10,000 a year, £21,000 is for the borders who stay at the school all year round

Lord Wombles, Earl of RoF

I think you meant ‘boarders’, you peasant.


Hopefully one of the less benign members of Cambridge’s homeless community will recognise him and eat him.


There are a lot of homeless people in Cambridge (or at least people who purport to be homeless).


Cambridge is a weird city. It’s like old medieval streets with a council estate right around corners / walls / gardens. The grafton centre (town centre shopping place) is grim.


Everyone Google his name and “homeless” 100 times daily to ensure this story stays top of the results.

Bye bye TC!


Listen to yourself,he made a bad judgement call,he’s not a murderer.


Hello Ronald.

I see you and all your limp wristed poshboy mates have been down rating all the critical comments on here.

Go home to Mammy, tosser!


Perhaps not, but on a cold night like this £20 could be the difference between life and death to a homeless person like this.

That’s why it’s so cruel.


I was thinking more a bed at a hostel or a hot drink and a sandwich…


If Ronald can’t secure a TC he can always go to Hong Kong and a prostitute-murdering banker


and become a prostitute-murdering banker I think you mean?


The act was a crime under s4a of the Public Order Act 1986. He behaved abusively, with intent to cause distress. He could get six months in jail.


Troo troo.

Just need someone to ring up Cambridgeshire Police to make a complaint.

The evidence is already there…


I disagree.

They’ve provided excellent evidence for the Crown!


Evidence for the Crown, that’s interesting, but whilst we are on the subject, why haven’t Mr and Mrs McCann been prosecuted for the abandonment and neglect of their three very young children whilst they were out wining and dining with friends. The abuction of Madeline McCann and the events that happened whilst her parents were out is constantly well reported. Only last week I read that the Police in this Country were authorised to spend another £85000 in trying to solve the case. How come it was so easy for someone to abduct this little girl.?


Namedropping someone who doesn’t even know you shows the measure of this posh non-entity’s character.


Interesting, he’s nowhere to be found on LinkedIn. Looks like the damage-mitigation machine is now in full spin. Too bad it won’t help him one bit.

His name is currently ‘trending’ on Facebook searches, with 60,000+ searches made. Ouch indeed.


If he’s that good at mitigation, perhaps he’ll make a great lawyer after all.


I wish people were more decent to each other.

Obviously what the kid had done was wrong. But let’s not blow it out of proportion.

Doesn’t give everyone licence to be horrific about him. Some of these comments are beyond the pale.

Bob the Hobo

Hello again Ronald ye limp wristed Nancy-boy!

I think it’s time for a group of homeless types might descend en masse to Pembroke College tonight for a wee snackie…

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Supreme Court vicarious liability decisions to hit law syllabuses. Wrote about it on my exam!


He’s from Livingstone yet is called Ronald.
Poor boy never stood a chance.


There is a lot of nasty inverted snobbery here. He’s a young guy who did a silly thing, probably to fit in with other silly young men. I hope his future is not compromised. He is clearly a very talented individual. It would be a shame if the country were unable to benefit from his work.

Bob the Hobo

Ronald again! Ye’re not doing yuself any favours here by trying to make oot it wasn’t so bad.

Now what’s that I can smell outside Pembroke College on this cold, cold night?

Jeremy Corby

How dafuq do you reason he’s a “talented individual” just because he got into Cambridge????

Care to list his glowing achievements other than being the son of an oil executive who went to a posh school before going to Cambridge? You obviously know him well as there’s sod-all online about them!

Jeremy Corby

And yet still no answer from you though…

Please do tell me what this “very talented young man” has to offer humanity.

I really am dying to know what makes him such a special person!


I wouldn’t be surprised with 60,000+ searches on fb, and probs more on Google, that he just gives up on everything altogether. Great way to start adult life. Boom.

Scouser of Counsel

There’s always Daddy’s money to fall back on.

Wasters like this never really lose, even for this level of cruelty.

I think we should find out who the homeless guy was and crowdfund a new set of clothes and a few nights in a posh hotel. At least something good can come of it then…

Concerned of Cantab

It might be totally unrelated, but does anyone here in Cambridge know why there are so many people dressed as killer clowns hanging around the entrances to Pembroke College?

Ron Coyne

Why is everyone being so mean about this?

I was drunk, OK? I wouldn’t do something like this when sober.

In any case, it could be argued that I was incentivising this man not to simply sit around asking people for money, but getting up, getting a job and earning £20 notes of his own.

Why can nobody see that???


Where did the first comment go? Nicky S calling him a “bawbag”?


This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.


Anyone thought he might have just been trying to provide the homeless bloke with some warmth


This chinless wonder is a cold-blooded reptile in a dinner suit.

He doesn’t know the meaning of warmth.


WIKI: Ronald Coyne.
A cunt who should be thrown out, disrobed, barred and expelled.

Meme: Ronald Coyne.
That’s the wrong coin, Ronald Coyne, you have no sense.

Mother & Colleagues: Can’t you see our boy was drunk?
Um, no we cannot. Obviously you have never been drunk!

Social Media: Years of study, dead in seconds reference: Ronald Coyne.


I don’t understand how we can all read very worthy articles plugging “LAWCARE” and stresses / strains of work and study that is a correct and extremely relevant issue……. and then – behave in a way that is mean / nasty / abusive, about a young student who had made a very public mistake. It was a prank in extremely poor taste – but that’s the height of it…. don’t blow it out of proportion …….

I have absolute sympathy for the homeless man and a strange sort of sympathy for the backlash the young student is facing which must be stressful in itself…. I hope he uses this as an opportunity to reflect and perhaps change political allegiances…. the core values of the conservative party are not bringing out the best in him….

The wider point should be why these types of initiations exist in the first place? It was not something he did as an individual – but was part of coerced group behaviour by the student Conservative society at the university………….a “long standing tradition of initiation”…….

Ironically, it has been long – term lack of investment in public services by successive Conservative governments that has contributed to homelessness…….. we need to protect our public services (social housing and the NHS)……..hard times and the vagaries of life can hit us all, just like the homeless man – there but the grace of God go I….. so we must be compassionate and help each other. Politically, that means investment in the NHS and housing.

The Voice of Reason

Good points raised, there’s just a certain nerve that gets hit with this sort of heartless act.

Sure, the homeless guy is no poorer than he would have been had Mr Chinny-Chin-Chinless just walked on by, but then nor is he- he is still a first year student. No court has passed a sentence on him dictating he’s finished.

Like everything in life, one’s actions have consequence, and you can’t dictate to people how to feel or how to think.

If he applied for a TC at the firm I work for, I would imagine he would have had to virtually dedicate all the free time in his remaining years of study to helping the poor before he’d even get a look in.

Serious rehabilitation required. He’s made a massive rod for his own back. He might be able to fix it- perhaps not.

Ultimately he’s an adult and responsible for his own actions and their consequences.

Recruiters also have to think about the reputations of their firms, and most people would not want to be represented by “that posh guy who got filmed burning the £20 note in front of the homeless person.

His efforts to justify his actions (being drunk/ not as posh as claimed) do him no favours. An unequivocal mea culpa would have been better.


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