November 2020

Dad convicted of killing son he threw into river

A dad who threw his baby into a river, killing the youngster, has been found guilty of manslaughter by reason of diminished responsibility

Zak Bennett-Eko flung his son, Zakari William Bennett-Eko, into the River Irwell in Radcliffe on September 11, 2019.

After the baby boy’s body was pulled from the water, he was found to have died from hypothermia, drowning, or a combination of the two.

During the trial over Zakari’s death, Bennett-Eko’s defence team argued that the defendant was not guilty of murder by reason of insanity.

The prosecution alleged that he was guilty of manslaughter by diminished responsibility.

The Lowry Nightingale court heard how Bennett-Eko told doctors that he ‘believed his son was the devil and that he was being told to drown him’ at the time of the crime, after spiralling into a severe state of psychosis.

The jury had to decide between the two arguments presented by barristers through a ‘route to verdict’.

The route dictated that the jury should find Bennett-Eko not guilty by reason of insanity if they believe he was suffering a ‘disease of the mind’ – paranoid schizophrenia, in this case – and that he either: did not know what he was doing when he threw his baby or did not know what he was doing was wrong at the time of the throwing.

However, if they did not agree with these options, they should find him guilty of manslaughter by diminished responsibility.

After less than three hours of deliberations, the jury came back to court to find Bennett-Eko guilty by reason of diminished responsibility today (November 30).

Bennett-Eko is currently residing at Ashworth secure hospital and was not present for the trial. He will also not be present for his sentencing tomorrow (December 1).

The court is now seeking further psychiatric evidence to decide what kind of sentence Bennett-Eko will receive.

The verdict was met with an audible reaction in court from the public gallery, where family members have been sitting as the trial has continued.