THE father of a baby thrown from a bridge to his death in Radcliffe had begged to be sectioned three days before the tragedy, a review has found.

Eleven-month-old Zakari Bennett-Eko was dumped in the River Irwell in September 2019, by his mentally-ill father Zak, who believed the toddler was possessed by the devil.

Now a serious case review conducted by the Bury Safeguarding Partnership Board has identified a series of failings, in the days before Baby Zakari's death, which contributed to the incident.

An investigation has found Zak Bennett-Eko went to the A&E department at North Manchester General Hospital on September 8, telling staff he had not been taking prescribed schizophrenia medication and asking to be sectioned.

He had attended the same hospital at least twice before in the previous month, the serious case review has reported.

But a mental health assessment at NMGH ruled that as he had been seen five days earlier, and had been referred to the Bury Access and Crisis Team, no further intervention was warranted.

Three days later paranoid schizophrenic Zak took Baby Zakari out for a walk in his pushchair in Radcliffe, while the toddler's mother Emma Blood remained at their flat in River Street.

Eyewitnesses saw Zak pick his son out of the pram then swing the tot backwards and forwards before throwing baby Zakari over a fence and into the River Irwell.

While attempts were made to rescue Baby Zakari they proved unsuccessful because of the steep river bank.

Meanwhile his father went to the nearby Lock Keeper pub and sat at a table while emergency services scrambled to the scene in an attempt to save the baby's life.

He was later arrested at the pub and was said to have made some admissions to another customer in the pub about what he had done.

The father is now detained in a secure mental hospital after pleading guilty to the manslaughter of Baby Zakari on the grounds of diminished responsibility at Manchester Crown Court.

Trial judge Mr Justice Fraser said the defendant had apparently "slipped through the net" of mental health services in the time leading up to the baby's tragic death.

Before moving to Radcliffe in 2018, the baby's parents had been known to Manchester social services.

But after an assessment in Bury, and a positive mental health check, no immediate difficulties were identified. But it was not then known the father had been discharged from the care of Manchester Learning Disability Service.

An incident took place at the Abraham Moss housing office in May, which saw Zak saying he wanted to kill himself and had stopped taking his medication.

But a proposed shared learning disability and adult social care assessment did not take place as Zak had split from Emma Blood and was back living in Manchester.

Social services remained unaware he had returned to the household later, before he made three trips to A&E at North Manchester General between August 31 and September 8.

Lead reviewer Paul Sharkey, in the serious case review (SCR), has listed 13 separate failings, contributing to Baby Zakari's death, chiefly involving Manchester social services and clinical commissioners.

He said: "Three days before the incident on (September 8 Zak) presented at the NMGH Accident and Emergency Department, seemingly in a poor state and wanting to be sectioned.

"The mental health practitioner decided not to see (Zak) because he had recently had a thorough mental health assessment....some five days before and was due to be seen by the Bury Access and Crisis Team.

"The SCR found that (Zak) should have been seen and assessed by (the mental health practitioner). However, despite this active failure, the SCR identified a number of possible organisational latent failures that militated against safe practice.

"However, it should be noted that even if (Zak) had been seen and assessed by (the mental health practitioner) there was no certainty that he would have received an immediate response to his wish for sectioning and admission to hospital."

In the review he noted the concerns around "vulnerable first-time parents living within a context of low income, lack of appropriate housing and away from their social and family support networks. A father with learning disabilities and mental health needs which were not met in the crucial months leading up to (Baby Zakari's) death. A father who had become lost to the Manchester adult social and health support agencies on the family’s move to Bury in June 2018."

In a statement read to her former partner's trial, Miss Blood said: "I will never understand why, nor will I get over this."

She was eight months pregnant with Bennett-Eko's daughter at the time of their son's death.

She added: "I can only hope, in time, the man responsible will come to understand the unimaginable pain his actions have caused."