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Dad threw baby son into river because he ‘thought he was turning into the devil’

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A young schizophrenic father threw his son into a river because he believed the baby was 'turning into the devil.'

Zak Bennett-Eko, 23, hurled 11-month-old son Zakari into the River Irwell in Greater Manchester on the afternoon of September 11 2019.

He was found guilty of manslaughter and issued a hospital order last year, but now a serious case review has revealed the changes in his mental health support system before the tragic incident.

During his trial, the court heard the paranoid schizophrenic had gone to North Manchester General Hospital days before his son's death and asked to be sectioned but left before being treated, PA reports.

A serious case review published by Bury Integrated Safeguarding Partnership found Bennett-Eko had been discharged from a learning disability service after moving between Bury and Manchester.

The review, led by Paul Sharkey, listed 13 factors that combined to produce a "pathway to harm" for Zakari, including a "fragmented and very complex adult health and social care system".

The report said Bennett-Eko and Zakari's mother, Emma Blood, were relocated to Bury from Manchester in June 2018 by Manchester Housing Solutions and that was a major factor in their "social isolation and increased vulnerability".

Had they been dealt with a month later they would have been found temporary accommodation in Manchester due to a change in policy, the review found.

In August that year, Bennett-Eko was discharged from the Manchester learning disability service due to a lack of attendance and "became lost" as a result and "his needs neglected by the care system in Manchester, including the key elements of a responsible clinician to oversee his medication."

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It also said a "flawed" assessment carried out by Bury Children's Social Care in May 2019 did not take into account the risks of Bennett-Eko not taking his medication and reverting to cannabis use.

By August that year, his mental health had rapidly deteriorated and in September 2019 he attended A&E at the North Manchester General Hospital three times, but delays meant he was not seen by access and crisis service before his son's death.

Tony Decrop, assistant director of social care and safeguarding at Bury Council, said there had been a failure to "appreciate fully" the risk Bennett-Eko posed to his son.

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He added: "All the agencies involved are truly sorry for what happened and are determined to do all they can to prevent, so far as humanly possible, something like this happening again.

"We have already learned from the review of this case and action has been taken as a result"

Bernadette Enright, executive director of adult social services for Manchester City Council, said: "This was a complex case with multiple factors and a distressing and extreme conclusion.

"It's important for all agencies involved in this case to reflect on the run-up to these tragic events and use learnings to strengthen practice."

  • Courts
  • NHS

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