UK mum remembers "beautiful" baby son who died when dad threw him into river
His dad was sentenced to an indefinite hospital order for mental health issues in 2020.
**Content warning: Some readers may find this article distressing.
The mother of a baby boy who died after his dad threw him into a river in the UK has told an inquest about her "beautiful boy".
11-month-old Zakari William Bennett-Eko died when his dad Zak Bennett-Eko took him out of his pram and threw him into the River Irwell in Radcliffe, Greater Manchester, in September 2019.
An inquest into his death is now underway at Rochdale Coroner's Court, which heard how the infant had been in the water for 45 minutes prior to dying in hospital.
Zakari's mum, Emma Blood, remembered her son during the inquest.
She said she and Bennett-Eko were delighted to welcome their baby boy in 2018.
"He was the most beautiful baby boy. We both fell in love with him," she said, per reports. "It was a really proud moment when we both registered the birth with our names on the certificate as his parents.
“The relationship was good at first and we spent a lot of time together, although I was aware he suffered from mental illness.
"He said that he suffered drug-induced psychosis and that he took medication, but that it was under control. I didn't understand what psychosis was, and he said he had ADHD. I didn't know that he also had schizophrenia."
After Zakari was born, Ms Blood said a health visitor was engaged with the family and aware of Bennett Eko's mental health issues. He was referred to social services for assessment, but they did not talk about his mental health.
When Zakari was three months, Ms Blood found out she was pregnant again and while Bennett-Eko was pleased, his behaviour was beginning to worry her.
"He was acting strangely. He was always disappearing and causing problems within the family," she said.
"He would act like he was depressed then he would be okay the next minute. It was like he was faking it."
In August 2019, Ms Blood found out Bennett-Eko had not been picking up and taking his prescribed medication since that May. She decided she no longer wanted them to be together.
"It was just too much. He was going around slagging me off to everyone. I didn't like him anymore. He was just a horrible person. We argued about something and he slapped me."
Bennett-Eko, now 24, resumed taking the medication right before the tragedy in September.
Senior civilian police investigating officer Duncan Thorpe said he admitted throwing little Zakari into the river when interviewed.
Thorpe told the court: "He said he had been having mad thoughts. He demonstrated with his arms how he did it. He said the people were challenging him to 'carry out witchcraft'."
A pathologist told the inquest that the cause of Zakari's death was immersion in cold water.
Bennett-Eko was found guilty of manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility. He was sentenced to an indefinite hospital order in December 2020.
The inquest continues.