It appears people have little morals these days. It was quite sad to hear the details of a Coroner’s Court inquest case that took place last week where a cyclist stole a bike belonging to another man as that man lay drowning in a canal just yards away.
The inquest at Leeds Coroner’s Court heard that Adam Lowther took the bike because he believed the man in the canal, Michael Houghton, was already dead as his body was motionless in the water.
The theft took place on the path of the Leeds Liverpool canal near Kirkstall on July 29 last year. Mr Lowther had spotted Mr Hougton’s abandoned Apollo Vortice mountain bike on the canal towpath while out riding his own bike.
Mr Lowther was arrested initially on suspicion of murder of Mr Houghton after detectives were able to ascertain that Mr Houghton had been travelling on his bike that evening. Mr Houghton’s bike was traced to a second hand shop with Mr Lowther identified by the bike shop as being the seller of the bike (for just £20).
He was given a four month sentence for the theft but was ruled out as a murder suspect though he initially denied ever seeing Mr Houghton’s body in the canal when first questioned.
Mr Lowther did later admit to Police that he had seen Mr Houghton’s body in the water but did nothing to alert other parties or the Police as to the body being in the canal and just took off with the bike. Mr Lowther claimed that his phone battery had died but still took no action to alert the emergency authorities after carrying on his journey.
Lowther told the inquest: “I picked up this bike and was just about to get on it and I noticed in the canal a dead body. I was shocked so I rode off.”
The inquest heard that Mr Houghton’s body was subsequently spotted by a jogger and a cyclist sometime later on the same day. They both pulled Mr Houghton’s body out of the canal. Finding he was still breathing, they gave him some basic first aid and called the emergency services. Mr Houghton, however, died a few days later.
Cause of death
The court inquest heard that Mr Houghton had most likely come off his bike during his ride somehow and fell into the three-foot deep canal. Alcohol was found in his body. A post-mortem report gave his cause of death as brain damage caused by the drowning.
West Yorkshire Coroner David Hinchliff recorded an open verdict on Mr Houghton’s death. While it is uncertain whether Mr Houghton would have survived had Mr Lowther helped recover his body from the canal when he came across it before the jogger and the cyclist, Mr Hinchliff said Mr Lowther should have acted to get Mr Houghton out of the water.
The fact he didn’t just showed what “a thoroughly cowardly and despicable young man” he was.
For more great cycling news and stories follow us on Twitter or Facebook