An 11-month-old boy allegedly thrown in a river by his father died from ‘immersion’, an inquest heard today.
Zakari William Bennett-Eko was pulled out of the River Irwell in Radcliffe, Greater Manchester, by firefighters after reports of a child in the water shortly before 4.25pm on September 11.
North Manchester Coroners’ Court heard details about the tragic incident during a five minute hearing on Tuesday.
Police coroner’s officer Jane Scullion confirmed that police were called to River Street after being alerted by members of the public, and discovered the baby in the river.
Zakari William Bennett-Eko was pulled out of the River Irwell in Radcliffe, Greater Manchester, by firefighters. He died later at hospital
Zak Bennett-Eko (pictured with his son) appeared in court earlier in September
The coroner confirmed the little boy was taken to a nearby hospital but died a short time later from ‘immersion’.
Zakari’s father, Zak Eko, 22, appeared at Manchester Crown Court earlier this month in connection with the death of his son. He faces two charges – one of murder and one of manslaughter.
In the September 13 hearing, which lasted barely a minute, Eko was flanked by prison officers as he entered the dock and gave his name as Zak Bennett-Eko and confirmed his date of birth.
Eko, wearing a grey top and grey jogging bottoms, was told by Deputy District Judge Vincent McDade that the matter needed to be dealt with in a crown court.
In her statement Ms Blood (pictured with her son) wrote: ‘I didn’t know my child was dead until I got to A&E. We sat with him for hours, we held him, we kissed him and then I left’
Emma Blood (pictured in hospital with her son) has posted an emotional statement on Facebook following after the death of her son Zakari, and wrote: ‘I love my little boy and did everything for him’
Following his death, the boy’s grief-stricken mother Emma Blood, 22, posted an emotional statement on Facebook, revealing how she has ‘lost my son’ and said she ‘wished I was dead.’
Describing her son as ‘my world, my heart, my soul’, Ms Blood, who is believed to be pregnant, told how she spent the final moments with him after his death.
Ms Blood wrote earlier this month: ‘I lost my baby today. I love my little boy and did everything for him. I didn’t know my child was dead until I got to A&E.
‘We sat with him for hours, we held him, we kissed him and then I left.
Tributes line a bridge in Radcliffe over the River Irwell where 11 month old Zakari was pulled out of the river earlier in September
A woman is consoled by a man as they read some of the hundreds of tributes left to little Zakari
‘Let me grieve for my child, my whole world and so much more. I am alive, although I wish I was dead.’
One witness told the Manchester Evening News: ‘It was a very small child in the river, I thought it was a doll when I saw it.
‘I thought someone was on the run.’
Neighbours also revealed earlier in the month that Ms Blood, the mother of the child, is believed to be around three or four months pregnant.
Paramedics battled to save the boy after he was pulled from the water, some 100 yards from the bridge (pictured)
Forensics officers in nearby Peel Street after the baby boy was rescued from the River Irwell
Zakari’s maternal great-grandfather also revealed how Bennett Eko and Ms Blood were a ‘happy couple.’
David Kavanagh, 67, told The Sun: ‘Emma and Zak seemed like a happy couple, she was a loving mother.
‘She was taking Zakari to playgroup and they were making plans for his first birthday.’
Tearful mourners, many who were mothers with young children, left more than 100 bunches of flowers, soft toys and candles on the bridge.
Floral tributes have been left at the scene earlier this month on the bridge over the River Irwell
This card reads: ‘Difficult to comprehend what has happened. What kind of world do we live in when an innocent baby can lose their life in this way’
Among the tributes was a large cuddly bear with a card that read: ‘To a beautiful little boy. Sleep tight little man. Our thoughts are with your family. From all of us at Lidl Radcliffe.’
The boy’s maternal grandfather Andy Blood was too upset to comment as he visited the bridge. He left a card that read: ‘To my beautiful grandson. We love you so much RIP.’
His paternal grandfather Addy Eko wrote online: ‘Good blees little man still got your dummy here il bring it soon say hi to your sister and nana so sorry which it me not you. So unfair livening now and always grandad sorry.’
Ms Blood’s Facebook page is packed with pictures of her son. She announced her pregnancy in February 2018, where she wrote on Facebook: ‘I honestly can not hold back anymore, we are over the moon that we are expecting a baby.’
A balloon has been attached to the bridge in Radcliffe with a tribute that read: ‘In the arms of the angels’
A police officer mans a cordon near the bridge were the baby was allegedly thrown into the water
After her first scan she wrote: ‘Today we seen our little baba who has a very strong heartbeat, healthy and is perfect in every single way.
‘Mummy & Daddy love you always our little cherub. The past ten weeks have flown by it won’t be long until we meet you in person.’
In a selfie in hospital with her new son in October last year she wrote: ‘He’s just so perfect and so good. He was worth every bit of pain. We love you Zakari.’
Members of the community in Radcliffe responded to the tragedy on social media, expressing their shock at the incident.
One user commented: ‘Totally horrific beyond comprehension. Worked in Radcliffe, know the area but this is just so utterly horrible.’
The boy was thrown off the Blackburn Street bridge and into the River Irwell in Radcliffe, Greater Manchester, it is claimed
A JustGiving page was also been set up to help pay for the cost of the funeral.
Helen Coverdale, who set up the page, said: ‘I set the Just Giving page up last night.
‘Just being a mother, and being a human being, what happened absolutely shook me to my core. I felt I needed and wanted to do something. If I am being honest I wanted to pick him up and give him a big hug.
‘When I heard he had passed away everybody was saying they wanted to do something to remember him, something like a headstone or flowers on the bridge.’
The 45-year-old, from Radcliffe, added: ‘The response has been amazing, within an hour it was £700. I put £1,000 that was the target. It shows we are a lovely community.’