A father who plunged his 11-month-old son into a river was ruled guilty of manslaughter by diminished liability.
Little Zakari Bennett-Eko was rescued by rescue services from the water but could not be saved after the September 11, 2019 crash. It was learned that he died from hypothermia, drowning, or a combination of both.
The Manchester Evening News reports that his boyfriend, Zak Bennett-Eko, 23, was seen tossing his son into the River Irwell in Radcliffe, Greater Manchester, before heading to a local pub, where he was arrested last September.
Bennett-Eko, who suffered from delusional schizophrenia, heard a six-day hearing at the Nightingale court sitting at the Lowry Theater in Salford, claiming that his boy was transformed into the devil “and that he was being told to drown him”
When in detention, he demanded to reach his dead mom and called “Uncle Steve”, a cop.
Bennett-legal Eko’s counsel argued during the trial about the death of Zakari that the suspect was not guilty of murder on account of insanity.
The defense, however, argued that Bennett-Eko should be found guilty of manslaughter by diminished liability.
And when the jury returned its decision on Monday, November 30th, there were calls of “yes” from the public gallery.
In the days before the attack, the court had learned that Bennett-Eko, who is being treated at the safe Ashworth Hospital in Merseyside and was too unwell to attend the hearing, called medics a number of times.
On September 8, he demanded to be sectioned at North Manchester General Hospital but left before he was treated.
Three days later, in his pushchair, he carried his son out and dropped him into the local canal.
Prosecutor Rob Hall had told the court that Zakari’s girlfriend, Emma Blood, who was pregnant at the time with her second child, had told Bennett-Eko that he wanted to start taking care of himself because she would not be able to take care of him and two kids.
Mr. Hall said: “It may be that the exchange put the seed in the mind of Zak that without Zakari they would be better off.”
Two psychiatrists, depending on the prosecution, argue that Bennett-Eko is believed to have met the legal threshold for being declared insane.
Dr. Higgins and Dr. John Crosby, both psychiatrists now living at the safe Bennett-Eko facility, say the patient genuinely considered his son to be the devil and felt “killing the devil is not wrong”
Dr Crosby said the lack of effort by Bennett-Eko to rescue his son demonstrates “how grossly disturbed his mental health is after proof that the defendant had formerly been a loving parent.
“He also seemed confused and may have been hearing voices as his eyes were staring around strangely. He did not look as though he was aware of his surroundings,” the doctor said.
While he knew that what he did was wrong, he did not know that what he did was wrong.
“He believed due to hallucinations that his son was the devil, and therefore it’s not legally wrong to kill the devil.”
Psychiatrist Dr Inti Qurashi said during his testimony that the defendant told him that he paused before he hurled Zakari into the river and thought, “What am I doing?”
Justice Fraser said, summing up the argument, Dr. Qurashi said “he considered the hesitation before the baby was thrown into the river to be an important point and said it showed that the defendant knew what he was going to do was wrong.”