A so-called prankster who filmed and posted a video where he feeds a homeless man a toothpaste filled Oreo has been jailed.
Kanghua Ren, who is known online as ReSet, sparked outrage when he offered a homeless man in Barcelona a cookie filled with toothpaste instead of cream.
Now, he’s been sentenced and must pay €20,000 in compensation to his victim.
Ren was found guilty of violating the moral integrity of the homeless man and given a 15-month sentence, however it is unlikely he’ll spend any time behind bars unless he re-offends as Spanish law permits sentences under two years for first time non-violent offenders to be suspended.
According to The New York Times, the Barcelona court heard how Ren was also told he must shut down his YouTube and other social media channels to be shut down for five years, essentially ending his career as a YouTuber.
Ren, who was 19 when he filmed the ‘prank’ in early 2017, was reportedly encouraged to do so by his 1.2 million followers.
In the video, which is uncomfortable viewing to say the least, he replaced the cream in the Oreo cookies with toothpaste and gave them to the man, along with a €20 note. The homeless man, who was identified as Gheorge, a man in his early fifties who worked as a shepherd in Romania before migrating to Barcelona, was seen vomiting after eating the cookie.
After the video received international criticism, Ren replaced it with a video of him visiting the man once again and offering him another €20. Police say he also visited the daughter of the man and offered her €300 in return for the man not filing a lawsuit against him.
He told the Spanish court how the video was just a bad joke, which he claims he later tried to rectify. Spanish media report he said: ‘I do things to mount a show: People like what is morbid.’
However, the judge was quick to point out Ren had earned more than €2,000 from advertising on the video, which was just one of several challenges he made at the request of his followers.
Handing Ren the 15-month sentence, judge Rosa Aragonés said ‘this was not an isolated act,’ adding that Ren’s other videos showed ‘cruel behaviours’ towards ‘easy or vulnerable victims.’
In the original video, Ren acknowledged his so-called prank ‘may have gone a bit far’ but joked there was a ‘positive side’ saying the toothpaste ‘will help clean his teeth – I don’t think he has cleaned them since he became poor.’
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Emma Rosemurgey is an NCTJ trained Journalist who started her career by producing The Royal Rosemurgey newspaper in 2004, which kept her family up to date with the goings on of her sleepy north east village. She graduated from the University of Central Lancashire in Preston and started her career in regional newspapers before joining Tyla (formerly Pretty 52) in 2017, and progressing onto UNILAD in 2019.