The father claimed that he saw two women with “eyes like the devil” who told him to drown his baby.
Trigger warning: contains details that may be distressing to some.
The last time a young father, Zak Bennett-Eko, 23, decided to take his baby boy out for a walk, he left the house with his son in a pushchair and made his way to the River Irwell in Radcliffe, Greater Manchester. It was around 4 pm in the afternoon that day, and as the father saw two women walk by him, he felt they had “eyes like the devil” and they wanted him to drown his son in the river.
The next thing the father did was take his 11-month-old baby boy out of the pushchair and he swung him from one side to the other before throwing him into the water. Witnessing the horror unfold were two teenagers nearby who saw the 23-year-old drown the infant in River Irwell.
Zak then walked into a pub and told someone that he just threw his baby boy, Zakari Bennett-Eko, into the river, as reported by Sky News.
Meanwhile, several people informed the police about the baby but by the time Zakari was rescued from the river, it was 5:15 pm and too late for any chances of the baby surviving. Police officers also went to the pub and arrested Zak over the death of his child.
In court for Zak’s trial, the jury was told that the man suffered from paranoid schizophrenia, while Rob Hall, prosecuting, also said that he thought his baby boy was turning into the devil.
Before baby Zakari’s birth, when his partner Emma Blood was eight months pregnant with their child, she had a conversation with him that Rob Hall said might have set him off. During the conversation, Emma told him that after their son’s birth, she wouldn’t be able to look after two babies and so, he needed to start taking care of himself, according to BBC.
Rob Hall referred to this conversation as the possible first trigger for Zak that eventually led to the horrific drowning of his baby in September, 2019. “It may be that exchange set the seed in Zak’s mind that they would be better off without Zakari,” Hall said. “Zak would later claim at about this time he saw Zakari’s legs expanding and that he, Zakari, was turning into the devil.”
Emma and Zak had been dating since 2016 and had a baby in 2018. Around the time of baby Zakari’s death in 2019, Emma had also sent text messages to her friends where she spoke about her partner’s unpredictable behavior.
“He’s saying Zakari isn’t our baby and stuff. One second he’s OK, the next minute he’s going mad saying he’s going to kill himself,” said one of Emma’s text messages, which were revealed in court, according to Sky News.
Emma wrote in other messages about Zak turning aggressive and kicking her door open before hurling things at her. She also revealed in the messages that Zak claimed he was the child of the famous popstar, Beyonce.
As the trial continues, the prosecution says he is guilty of manslaughter by diminished responsibility. But the defense is trying to prove that he is not guilty by reason of insanity. It was also said in court that Zak had been suffering with mental health problems from the age of 17.
“His early life was punctuated with exposures to violence and cannabis use,” said Hall.
Following the incident, Emma who dated Zak from 2016 and gave birth to their son in 2018, said about her son’s death, as quoted by Mirror, “Zakari was my life for 11 months and will be the heart of our family for many years to come… It’s hard to comprehend what has happened and that I will not get to see my baby grow up to be the handsome decent man I knew he would become.”