Manchester

Zakari Bennett-Eko: Mum pays tribute to 'cheeky little chappie'

Zakari William Bennett-Eko Image copyright Family Handout
Image caption Zakari William Bennett-Eko with his mother Emma Blood

The mother of a baby boy who died after being found in a river has paid tribute to "a cheeky little chappie with a smile that melted hearts".

Zakari Bennett-Eko died after he was pulled from the River Irwell in Bury, Greater Manchester, on Wednesday.

His mother Emma Blood said the 11-month-old was "a happy and content baby with a gorgeous little smile and a head full of curls".

Zakari's father Zak Eko, 22, has appeared in court charged with murder.

Emergency crews staff pulled Zakari from the water on Wednesday, but he later died in hospital.

Ms Blood said: "On Wednesday afternoon my life changed forever.

"I woke up that morning being a mummy to the most wonderful cute little boy and by the afternoon Zakari was taken from me in the most tragic of circumstances.

"Zakari was my life for 11 months and will be the heart of our family for many years to come."

She said her son was the "youngest of five generations of our family and was loved beyond belief".

Image copyright FAMILY HANDOUT
Image caption Zakari William Bennett-Eko died after being pulled out of the River Irwell in Radcliffe

Ms Blood added: "Zakari wrapped everyone around his little finger...Everyone that met him fell in love with him instantly.

"It's hard to comprehend what has happened and that I will not get to see my baby grow up to be the handsome decent man I knew he would become."

Flowers have been left on a bridge across the river in Radcliffe, while Zakari's relatives have paid tribute to him.

The boy's grandfather left a card that read: "To my beautiful grandson. We love you so much RIP."

Mr Eko, of no fixed address, appeared at Manchester Magistrates' Court earlier and was remanded in custody to appear at Manchester Crown Court on Monday.

Image copyright PA Media
Image caption Mourners have lined a bridge over the river with flowers

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