Disabled student in alleged pub assault

Catherine Watts 20 January 2008

Police are investigating claims that a student with cerebral palsy was assaulted in a Cambridge pub this Monday.

Pembroke College student Luke Barbanneau, 19, alleges that he was forcibly removed from the pub for “pretending to be disabled”.

Having arrived at 8.30, Barbanneau says that had been sitting with friends at the pub for over an hour when his alleged assailant paid his table a series of visits, which culminated in the reported incident.

On the first occasion, at about 10.00pm, the Pembroke student claims that the visitor was friendly, and complimented him.

But after he went away and came back again, it is widely believed that he became more and more incoherent, and made comments that the student and his friends were not able to understand.

Despite this, Barbanneau says that the man was only physically aggressive on his last visit to the area where he and his friends were sitting. The student claims that he was dragged from his seat by the collar of his coat with such force that he instantly lost his balance.

He also says that his alleged assailant did not give him any warning. It is claimed that Barbanneau was ejected from the pub for pretending to have a disability, as the individual accused him of “taking the piss” and “making it up”.

But the student said “I’ve never had anybody not realise before.”

Jonathan Woolley, a student at Pembroke College who witnessed the reported assault, suggested that the individual concerned may have thought Barbanneau was drunk, and removed him from the pub for that reason.

But he went on to say, “That’s the only thing I thought would have made any sense. I personally think that the difference between a drunken person and someone with cerebral palsy is noticeable.”

It is believed that an investigation has been launched by the company that owns the pub. A spokeswoman for the company said: “We will be interviewing customers who were in the pub at the time to ascertain what happened on the night so that the appropriate actions can be taken.

“We offer our apologies to Mr. Barbanneau, who we will keep fully informed of the outcome of our investigation once we have the full details.

“We are fully cooperating with the police in their investigation.”

Cambridgeshire police confirmed that they had received a call from a member of the public at 11.20 on Monday night.

At the time of going to press, police said that no one had yet been arrested, and that the investigation was ongoing.

Catherine Watts