Steve Allen 4am - 7am
Man appears in Manchester court, accused of murdering baby found in river
13 September 2019, 11:32
A man from Manchester has made his first appearance in court accused of murdering an 11-month-old boy, who died after being found in a river.
Zakari William Bennett-Eko was pulled out of the River Irwell in Radcliffe, Greater Manchester, by firefighters after reports that that a child was in the water on Wednesday.
He was taken to hospital from the scene near Blackburn Street in the town centre but died a short time later.
Zak Eko, 22, of no fixed address, was brought from custody to Manchester Magistrates' Court on Friday.
In a hearing lasting barely a minute, he was flanked by prison officers as he entered the dock and gave his name as Zak Bennett-Eko and confirmed his date of birth.
Mr 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.
The defendant was further remanded in custody and will next appear at Manchester Crown Court on Monday, September 16.
Zakari's mother Emma Blood paid tribute to her son saying he was her life for 11 months and will be "the heart of our family" for years.
She said: "He was a cheeky little chappie with a smile that melted hearts. He was the youngest of 5 generations of our family and was loved beyond belief.
“Zakari wrapped everyone around his little finger. He was a happy and content baby with a gorgeous little smile and a head full of curls.
"Everyone that met him fell in love with him instantly."
She continued by saying how it has been difficult to comprehend what had happened and that she will not get to see her baby grow up "to be the handsome decent man" she knew he would become.
She added: “My family and I would like to thank everybody for their continued support, it is very much appreciated and would like to ask for privacy at his traumatic time.”
The family have asked to be left to grieve in private whilst specialist officers continue to support them at this "devastating" time.