THE mum of tragic toddler Zakari Bennett-Eko has told an inquest of her attempts to get mental health help for her partner before he threw their baby into a river.

Zakari, aged 11 months, was recovered 45 minutes after his father, Zak Eko, dropped him into the River Irwell at Radcliffe on September 11, 2019, but medics were unable to revive him.

An inquest at Rochdale Coroner’s Court heard from a pathologist that the baby died due to immersion in cold water – the result of hypothermia and/or drowning.

The post mortem examination also revealed the baby had suffered a fractured leg in the days before his death.

Zakari’s mum, Emma Blood, told coroner Joanne Kearsley how, when she began a relationship with former schoolfriend Zak Eko in 2017, she had no idea he had previously spent years in hospital with mental health problems.

“He said he had suffered from psychosis, which was drug-induced, in the past and he took medication for it,” said Miss Blood.

“I didn’t really understand what psychosis was. He said he had ADHD. I did not know he had schizophrenia.”

Miss Blood said no-one from health or social services warned or advised her about her partner and, in the early days of their relationship she did not have concerns.

When, in February, 2018, she discovered she was pregnant, she said she and Mr Eko were delighted and they moved to a new home in River Street, Radcliffe.

Zakari was born a healthy 7lb 6oz on October 15, 2018, and put on weight but, apart from the health visitor, Miss Blood said they were not offered any additional support.

Within three months of Zakari’s birth Miss Blood was pregnant again with their daughter and she told the inquest how Mr Eko’s behaviour began to change.

He contacted Manchester children’s services claiming Miss Blood had assaulted him. But when a police officer visited their home, he claimed it was not true and he had only made the allegation because he did not like where they were living and wanted to move.

Radcliffe pharmacist Sham Iqbal told the inquest between January and May, 2019 his pharmacy had dispensed Mr Eko his anti-psychotic medication.

But he said no “red flags” were raised when the medication was not dispensed to him from May to September, 2019 as he could have obtained his prescription elsewhere.

Miss Blood said Mr Eko confessed to her he had not been taking his anti-psychotic medication and, as 2019 went on, he began “acting strangely”, lying to people in her family and causing problems. She did not know whether he was ill or just attention seeking.

“He would act like he was depressed and then be okay the next minute,” said Miss Blood.

Mr Eko once did not sleep for five days, she added, and would watch YouTube videos of the pop star Beyonce, claiming she was his mother.

His mother had died and Mr Eko, a cannabis user since he was 12, had previously been charged with assaulting her by stamping on her head.

Miss Blood said his behaviour became more erratic, he kept threatening to kill himself and they could no longer live together so he went to live with his nan.

“He was always kicking off. He was angry with everyone and always slagging everyone off,” said Miss Blood.

“He was getting weird, it wasn’t him. I didn’t understand what was going on.”

But Mr Eko’s grandmother could not cope with him and Miss Blood was asked if she would allow him to stay with her again.

Miss Blood said she tried to get help from medical professionals by phone but no-one would speak to her about him.

On September 3, 2019 she and baby Zakari went with Mr Eko to A&E at North Manchester General Hospital. She waited outside a room while he spoke to a member of the mental health team.

He told a staff member he was just depressed because he had lost his mother, she added, and he just needed to take his medication.

She was not asked about Mr Eko’s behaviour, the court heard.

Miss Blood said in the two days before Zakari’s death, Mr Eko had been behaving more normally.

On September 11 she went with Mr Eko to a surgery in Radcliffe to make an appointment for him as he was suffering from stomach pains.

She said they went to the Lock Keeper pub for lunch before returning home.

She was upstairs while Mr Eko played with Zakari in the living room and when she came downstairs the pair, plus the pushchair, were gone.

When she heard a disturbance she initially believed Mr Eko had killed himself.

Police investigator Duncan Thorpe told the inquest Mr Eko had gone to the river and thrown the baby into the water before going to sit in the Lock Keeper pub, where he was arrested.

In interview he claimed he had been told to throw the baby into the water by other people.

A jury found him guilty of manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility and he was detained on a hospital order.

The inquest, which is expected to last three weeks, heard from September, 2014 to February, 2016 Mr Eko had been sectioned and detained at Prestwich Hospital with psychosis.

But he was deemed to have been doing well when released and in 2018 was discharged by the Early Intervention Service.

Mr Thorpe said from 2016 to 2019 Greater Manchester Police had not been involved in any multi-agency work in relation to Mr Eko.

The inquest continues.