Cambridge University student tried to burn £20 note in front of homeless man

Mother says Ronald Coyne, a very distant relative by marriage of Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, has since handed out teas, coffees and sandwiches to street homeless

Peter Walker
Friday 10 February 2017 11:36 GMT
‘I don’t really know why he’s done something so thoughtless and cruel,’ said Mr Coyne’s mother
‘I don’t really know why he’s done something so thoughtless and cruel,’ said Mr Coyne’s mother (YouTube)

A mother has described her son’s attempt to burn a £20 note in front of a homeless man as “thoughtless and cruel”.

A video was shared on social media platform Snapchat showing University of Cambridge student Ronald Coyne attempting to light the cash note over the road from a rough sleeper.

Mr Coyne has been expelled from the Cambridge University Conservative Association (CUCA).

The student is reported to have boasted in the past about his familial connection to Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, although it appears in fact he is only a distant relative by marriage

“I don’t really know why he’s done something so thoughtless and cruel,” said his mother, Sandra McLaughlin, speaking to a journalist from her family home in Livingston, West Lothian, in Scotland.

“It’s very surprising. We’re just a normal family. We’re not toffs, he’s not a toff.”

The 46-year-old said Mr Coyne volunteered for two years at a homeless shelter shop in Edinburgh, and that after the 2 February incident, he went out with a friend giving tea, coffee and sandwiches to homeless people.

A CUCA spokesman said it considered the incident “abhorrent and repugnant”.

A statement read: “We took immediate action to revoke his membership and expelled him from the association.

The CUCA said Mr Coyne had been expelled after the incident YouTube (YouTube)

“There is no place for people who behave like this in CUCA; however we must emphasise that he was no more representing CUCA in his behaviour than he was any other university association of which he may be a member.

“Notwithstanding, we wish to totally disassociate ourselves from the individual and his behaviour.”

A Cambridge University spokesman said: “The university is committed to respecting the rights and dignity of all members of our community.

“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.”

In an updated statement today, the university said: “We are aware of an incident that took place in the early hours of Thursday, 2 February 2017. This incident has been referred to the university’s disciplinary process. We cannot comment further while this process is underway.”

Pembroke College pupil Mr Coyne, who is believed to be Ms Sturgeon’s sister-in-law’s ex-husband’s nephew, has deleted all his social media accounts.

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