The father who threw his child into a river and killed the young child was convicted of manslaughter due to diminished liability.
Zak Bennett Eco He dumped his son, Zachary William Bennett Eco, into the Irwell River at Radcliffe on September 11, 2019.
After pulling the infant’s body from the water, it was found that he had died from hypothermia, drowning, or a combination of the two.
During the trial over Zachary’s death, Bennett Eko’s defense team argued that the accused was not guilty of homicide by reason of insanity.
The prosecution pleaded guilty to manslaughter, to reduce his liability.
Lori Nightingale’s court heard how Bennett Eko told doctors that he “believed his son was the Devil and was asked to drown him” at the time of the crime, after he developed severe psychosis.
The jury had to decide between the two arguments presented by the attorneys through a “path to judgment”.
The way dictates the jury will find Bennett Eko not guilty of insanity if they believe that he was suffering from a “disease of the mind” – paranoid schizophrenia, in this case – and that either: he did not know what he was doing when he threw his child or he did not know That what he was doing was a mistake when he was cast.
However, if they do not agree with these options, they must condemn him for manslaughter by diminishing liability.
After less than three hours of deliberation, the jury is back in court to convict Bennett Eco for diminished liability today (Nov.30).
Bennett Eco is currently residing at Ashworth Safe Hospital and was not present on the trial. He will not be present for the verdict tomorrow (1 December).
The court is now seeking more psychological evidence to determine what kind of punishment Bennett Eko will issue.
The verdict was met with an audible reaction in court from the public balcony, where family members were sitting as the trial continued.
Judge Fraser called those who returned the decision to a “model jury,” after they had “listened carefully” to the evidence the entire time.
Bennett Eko has long suffered from serious mental health problems, was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, the trial heard.
Bennett Eko’s previous mental health concerns led him to enter a psychiatric hospital for more than a year, starting in 2014.
Before Zachary’s death, the court heard that Bennett Eko’s mental health was beginning to seriously deteriorate after he stopped taking his medication – a “common” thing for paranoid schizophrenics, according to the psychiatrists who provided evidence.
Bennett Eko said he started to hallucinate, and saw his “baby’s legs” expand. He’s also starting to have delusions, telling his girlfriend that his mother was Beyonce when his mother, in fact, died.
Bennett performed Eko at A&E six times in the weeks leading up to the crime, and he sought help for his mental health. The court heard that he was never hospitalized as a result of any of these visits.
The jury was told that his “superficial calm” exterior meant that doctors did not recognize his “seriously disturbed” mental state, despite telling staff that he wanted to split.
Shortly after 4 pm on September 11, Bennett Echo left the family home on River Street, Radcliffe, with his son in a pushchair.
He walked to the bank of the river and while he was doing so, a man passed by in a blue Ford Focus driven by a man who nodded at him.
Bennett Eko claimed that this gesture “specifically indicated” that Zachary was the Devil, and that he needed to drown.
On the day of his son’s death, Bennett Eko is seen “swinging his son from side to side” before tossing him into the river.
Bennett Eko was then seen walking into the nearby Lock Keeper bar “as if nothing had happened” before telling other agents what he had done, as the jury heard.
When the police arrived to arrest him, the accused was sitting “quietly” at a table and was coming with his name and address.
While in custody, he asked to call his deceased mother, and called the officer, Uncle Steve.
Two doctors, approved by the defense, said they believed Bennett-Eko had reached the legal limit of being insane.
Dr. Higgins and Dr. John Crosby, both psychiatrists at the safe hospital where Bennett Eko currently resides, say the patient truly believes his son is Satan and believes that “killing Satan is not wrong.”
Dr. Crosby said that Bennett Eko’s failure to try to save his son showed “how deeply disturbing his mental health is,” after evidence that the defendant was a previously caring father.
The doctor said, “He looked very confused and may have heard noises while his eyes looked around in an unusual way. He did not seem to be aware of his surroundings.”
“Even though he knew that what he was doing was wrong, he didn’t know that what he was doing was wrong.
“He believed, due to hallucinations, that his son was Satan, and therefore it is not legally wrong to kill Satan.”
However, another psychiatrist said he did not reach this “high level” and instead gave his professional opinion that Bennett Eko is capable of thinking rationally.
Dr. Inti Qureshi said that Bennett Eko only started claiming that his son was a psychiatrist demon after a while of his interview with the police – although psychiatrists stated that he has since returned to his medication and was able to talk more.
The medic added that Bennett Eko confessed that he hesitated before throwing his son, saying that he believed this showed that the accused “was able to understand his actions and that they were wrong.”
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