THE mum of an 11-month-old boy allegedly thrown from a bridge into a river by his dad paid tribute to her “cheeky little chappie” today.
Baby Zakari Bennett-Eko, who was 11 months old, was allegedly tossed into the River Irwell in Radcliffe, Greater Manchester, in a Moses basket on Wednesday afternoon.
He was rushed to hospital from the scene but died a short time later.
The boy’s dad, Zak Eko, 22, appeared in court today charged with murder.
In a tribute today, Zakari’s heartbroken mum Emma 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.
“He was a cheeky little chappie with a smile that melted hearts. He was the youngest of five generations of our family and was loved beyond belief.
“Zakari wrapped everyone around his little finger. He was a happy and content baby with a gorgeous little smile and a head full of curls. 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.
“My family and I would like to thank everybody for their continued support, it is very much appreciated and would like to ask for privacy at this traumatic time.”
Eko was arrested inside the Lock Keeper pub in Radcliffe at around 4.30pm on Wednesday.
The 22-year-old appeared at Manchester Magistrates’ Court today in a hearing lasting less than one minute.
Eko was flanked by prison officers as he entered the dock and only spoke to confirm his name as Zak Bennett-Eko and confirmed his date of birth.
He was remanded in custody to appear at Manchester Crown Court on September 16.
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It was revealed a hero cop had launched herself into the river to try to save the baby.
PC Jessica Voiels took to Twitter to describe her dramatic rescue attempt.
She wrote: “Had my worst shift yesterday. I can’t see many things being as bad as that in the future”.
Her mum Julie McCormick told the MailOnline: “She jumped into the river to try and save the baby. It’s awful.
“Her Sergeant sent her a text saying not many people go through that in a lifetime.”
Tearful mourners, many who were mothers with young children, have left flowers, soft toys and candles on the bridge in Blackburn Street.