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Cambridge University student who burned £20 in front of homeless man will return after apologising

A Cambridge University student who burned a £20 note in front of a homeless man will return to university this autumn after apologising for his actions.

Law student Ronald Coyne was videoed setting fire to the note in front of Ryan Davies and taunting him as he begged for money.

The footage of the incident went viral and a petition for Coyne to be expelled from the university, where he is a member of Pembroke College, gathered more than 20,000 signatures.

It has now emerged that Coyne will return to the university following a disciplinary process and in a full letter of apology written to his fellow students he admitted: “I abused my privilege”.

<em>Homeless – Ryan Davies was taunted by Ronald Coyne, who lit a £20 in front of him (Picture: SWNS)</em>
Homeless – Ryan Davies was taunted by Ronald Coyne, who lit a £20 in front of him (Picture: SWNS)

The letter, printed in full in the university’s Varsity newspaper, said: “I abused my privilege as a student at such a great university, and behaved in a way which is totally contrary to the values of the university and of its students.

He added: “The gift of a great education should be a tool to enrich society, not an excuse to debase it. I made a terrible mistake, and I quite rightly faced disciplinary action for it. I have addressed the root causes of my behaviour by attending awareness classes, relating to both alcohol and social inclusion.”

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Coyne described how strangers had sent abusive mail to his family home threatening him with violence and “chemical attacks”, and added: “I would like to end by repeating my deep regret at the offence and hurt caused by my actions, and asking for a second chance.”

At the time, unemployed crane driver Ryan Davies told the Cambridge News how Coyne mocked him after he asked passers-by for spare change, describing how he pulled out a £20 note and went to pass it to him, instead lighting it and saying: “How’s that for change, I’ve changed it into flames.”

<em>Apology – Coyne’s full apology was sent to fellow students and printed in the Varsity newspaper (Picture: Varsity)</em>
Apology – Coyne’s full apology was sent to fellow students and printed in the Varsity newspaper (Picture: Varsity)

He said: “It was absolutely disgusting. It was horrible. Just plain nasty.”

A spokesman for Cambridge University said it does not comment on individual cases but 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.”

(Top picture: Getty)