Father guilty of killing child he believed was turning into the devil

Zak Bennett-Eko, 23, and his son, 11-month-old Zakari Bennett-Eko. [Image credit: Greater Manchester Police]

The jury took just over three hours to return the verdict of guilty of manslaughter by reason of diminished responsibility in the case of Zak Bennett-Eko who was accused of murder for throwing his 11-month-old son into the River Irwell on September 11, 2019.


The defense had argued that their client should be found not guilty by reason of insanity citing that he had been diagnosed with "psychosis related to cannabis" at the age of 17 and had been suffering form paranoid schizophrenia at the time of his son's death.


According to information presented to the jury, Bennett-Eko had shown up at North Manchester General Hospital on September 8 appearing agitated and asking to be sectioned.  Before he was able to receive any care however, he left.


According to the Manchester Evening News, text messages that his girlfriend, Emma Blood had sent to her cousin were also presented to the court which detailed that earlier that day Bennett-Eko had woken her up.  "He woke me up at 5 am," she told her cousin, "squeezing his b**** saying, 'I need to cut them off before I turn into the devil.'"


She additionally relayed that he had told her his "mum is Beyonce" and that Zakari was not their kid. "He said, 'I need to kill him because he killed 10 people the night before.'"


The court was additionally told that he had stopped taking his prescribed medications, believing that he would be able to cope without them.  He also stopped showing up for doctors appointments.


The prosecutor, Rob Hall, told the jury that Blood, who was eight months pregnant at the time, had told him that he needed to start caring for himself more as she would not be able to manage two babies as well as him.


"It may well be that exchange set the seed in Zak's mind that they would be better off without Zakari," Hall speculated.   "Zak would later claim at about this time he saw Zakari's legs expanding and that he, Zakari, was turning into the devil" he told the court.


Just before 4 pm on September 11, 2019, Bennett-Eko left the residence he shared with Blood with Zakari in a stroller.  The court heard that Bennett-Eko claimed to walk past two women with "eyes like the devil" who wanted him to drown his son.


Bennett-Eko was witnessed by two teenagers, taking his son from the stroller, swinging him from side to side, and then throwing him into the river.


He then walked into the Lock Keeper pub where he was later arrested.


Zakari was pulled from the river about an hour and was pronounced dead at 6:30.


After his arrest, Hall told the court that Bennett-Eko that he had told a North West Ambulance Service paramedic by the name of Christopher Hackett that, "I was out of my mind. The voices in my head told me to do it," and that "It wasn't me who did it. The voices took control."


Bennett-Eko is scheduled to be sentenced tomorrow morning.