Every now and then, Emma Blood wakes up in the middle of the night thinking everything is okay.

For a precious few seconds, all is well. Her 'little baby boy' is still alive.

She doesn't immediately recall the nightmare that has unfolded in her life.

Then reality kicks in. The crushing grief returns. Her 'cheeky chappy' is gone.

This, she says, happens 'again and again'.

Today (Tuesday), justice was finally done in a case that shocked Greater Manchester.

Zakari William Bennett-Eko was just 11-months-old when he was thrown by his dad, Zak Bennett-Eko, into the River Irwell on September 11, 2019.

The child later died in hospital.

Flowers and tributes left for baby Zakari

A trial over Zakari's death followed, detailing Bennett-Eko's history with paranoid schizophrenia and how he had hallucinations, believing his son 'was the devil'.

Now it has been ruled that his dad will face years in a secure psychiatric unit having being unanimously found guilty of manslaughter by reason of diminished responsibility.

Days in court were filled with testimonies from doctors and barristers.

Just before the sentence was passed, the heartbreaking tale was told from the perspective of the woman at the centre of the case.

Emma Blood - Zakari's mum and Bennett-Eko's former partner - spoke of her unimaginable pain.

Zakari William Bennett-Eko

She and her loved ones will 'never get over' losing the 'bright, bubbly and very mischievous' little boy, she said.

At the time of Zakari's death, Ms Blood was eight months pregnant with her second child.

She knew of Bennett-Eko's history of mental-ill health and had seen his condition deteriorating.

Ms Blood tried to get her partner help, seeking emergency medication for him, but her attempts failed. Bennett-Eko was never admitted to hospital.

Bennett-Eko, now 23, had been a 'caring father' during the early stages of Zakari's life. Ms Blood could never have imagined the tragedy about to hit her, the judge told jurors.

After 'thinking long and hard' about what she wanted to say about the death of her son, Ms Blood shared her thoughts in a moving victim personal statement, which was read to the court.

She said: "I have thought long and hard about what I want to say about Zak's death, and what it has done to my family.

"He was dearly loved. The apple of my mum, Deborah's, eye - her only grandson who she saw, in some ways, as her son also.

"She doted on him and because of this, she took him on his first holiday. Now she will only have the memories to cherish.

Flowers and tributes for baby Zakari

"He was my first baby. He was bright, bubbly, and very mischievous. He soon figured out he could do cheeky things to get a giggle out of me.

"We would cuddle up together, watching Horrid Henry and Mr Bean. His little laugh was infectious.

"I was so proud watching his personality develop. I would tell him that his mummy loved him every day. I can't quite come to terms with the fact I can no longer do that in person."

The devastated mum said Zakari 'brought so much joy to the entire family' - and that she and her loved ones 'will never get over his loss'.

"The immeasurable grief carried by all of us is a testament to how much we loved him," she added.

"I looked forward to seeing what kind of young man he would be. My world stopped turning and collapsed."

Ms Blood described the moment she realised her son would not make it.

"I was at home and opened my door to the police officers," said Ms Blood.

"At first I thought Zak had done something to himself. I was told my son was in hospital after being thrown in the river.

"I knew it was serious, but I didn't know how devastating the situation was until I went to hospital.

"When you're willing your baby to be okay and pull through, only to be told he has passed away... I'm still in shock. I knew I would not be able to find the words."

Tributes for Zakari

Ms Blood moved on to the inescapable fact that Zakari's killer was his own father.

"My son had his own life taken by the one person that was supposed to love and protect him," she said.

"I can only hope that over time, the man responsible will understand the unimaginable pain his actions have caused.

"I don't want to say anything further about him."

Ms Blood added: "I will never understand why, nor will I get over this."

After Zakari's death, Ms Blood gave birth to her second child - a daughter who will sadly never get to meet her brother.

"It's almost impossible to see a future without my little man in it," said Ms Blood in her final few words read out in court.

Flowers and tributes left on the bridge

"He has left a hole we will never be able to fill.

"I am determined my daughter will know the type of cheeky chappy her big brother was.

"She has some of Zakari's character traits and they are starting to shine through.

"My Zakari, my baby boy, my beautiful son. He was only on this earth for 11 months, but he was loved a lifetime's worth."

A family statement released by police after the hearing read: "We'd like to thank all of those involved in this investigation who have helped us to get some justice for Zakari. He will never be forgotten."

Senior investigating officer Duncan Thorpe, from GMP's Major Incident Team, said: "This was an absolutely horrific incident that shocked the whole community and left members of the public who witnessed it extremely upset.

"Baby Zakari had only been with us for 11 months and his life ended after being thrown into a fast-moving river.

"Our thoughts are with the baby's family who have had to come to terms with the loss of their precious baby."