Michael Bowditch Becky Morgan Ramsgate drowning
Michael Bowditch (left), 21, has been jailed for leaving 17-year-old Becky Morgan to drown on the Kent coast Kent Police

A Kent man has been jailed for five-and-a-half-years after leaving a 17-year-old girl to drown in Ramsgate Harbour. Michael Bowditch, 21, from Ramsgate, made no attempt to save Becky Morgan, also from Ramsgate, when she fell into the sea and did not raise the alarm until three hours later.

Maidstone Crown Court heard Bowditch and Morgan met at a party on 30 April 2016 then left friends in a pub to go and sit on the harbour arm in the early hours of 1 May. According to Bowditch, the pair were "mucking about" at about 2am GMT when the victim fell in the water. Rather than summoning help, Bowditch went clubbing, only raising the alarm three hours later at 5am. Morgan's body was found off Broadstairs later.

Former grammar school boy Bowditch had been due to stand trial charged with murder but admitted manslaughter. The court heard he was extremely drunk at the time of the incident and had little memory of what happened.

Defence counsel Oliver Saxby QC said: "What happened in the early hours of that morning is, first and last, Michael Bowditch recognises, an utter tragedy for Becky Morgan, her family and friends, and nothing said on his behalf is intended to take away from that fundamental fact.

"He cannot say precisely how she came to fall into the sea," Saxby was quoted as saying by Mail Online. "He accepts that he was with her at the time and failed to prevent it happening. And he accepts that his inaction played a part in her death. Had he done something, her life could have been saved."

Jailing Bowditch for five-and-a-half-years Judge Jeremy Carey condemned him for his "repugnant" inaction. "You did not try in any way to help a drowning girl – not by throwing her a life buoy, not by going to her aid as some would have done, not by calling for help, not by contacting the rescue or emergency services," the judge said. "In other words, you left her to drown."

Kent Police deputy senior investigating officer Detective Sergeant Fiona Mattholie said: "Despite a comprehensive and in-depth investigation by officers, there is only one person who will ever really know the full details of what happened that night to cause a 17-year-old girl to lose her life.

"Bowditch has now admitted he did play a part in her death and was guilty of manslaughter by gross negligence. My condolences are with Miss Morgan's family and friends and I hope this helps them in coming to terms with such a tragic turn of events and the loss of life."