Lowther stole the bike in this area
Lowther stole the bike from dying Hinchliff on the Leeds-Liverpool canal near Kirkstall

A 22-year-old man was named 'despicable' at an inquest today after leaving a man lying face down in water and stealing his bike.

Adam Lowther told the inquest that he assumed 51-year-old Michael Houghton was already dead and that his own bike had a puncture and came to the conclusion he was free to take it.

He then said that he didn't call for any help for the ex-business man as he had no battery on his mobile phone. Lowther then rode off on the bike which he later pawned for £20.

The father-of-three is thought to have slipped off the path and into the 2-3ft deep water where he lay unconscious until he drowned. He was retrieved from the water ten minutes after the theft by cyclist James Atkinson and jogger William Bentall who gave him CPR until paramedics arrived.

Houghton was airlifted to Leeds General Infirmary but died three days later on Aug 2 last year.

Lowther cycled home and then Google searched how much the bike was worth before selling it to a pawnbroker's where he sold it for £20.

He claimed he had made a "stupid mistake" saying: "I was shocked so I rode off.

"I had nothing to hide … all I did was take the bike."

He continued: "I'm not a thief, I found a push bike, I didn't see the body in the water until I had got on the bike."

Detective Inspector Martin Hepworth, told the Daily Telegraph: "Had there been an offence for not being a Good Samaritan as there is in France, I would have charged him for that, but there is not."

David Hinchcliff, the coroner said: "The fact that he didn't shows what a thoroughly cowardly and despicable young man he is in contrast with the two that did.

"What leaves a nasty taste in everybody's mouth is an opportunistic thief came along, saw him in the water, believed he was dead, and choosing to do nothing, saw an opportunity to steal his cycle."