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

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By Thomas Connelly on

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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