A grieving mother has paid a heartbreaking tribute to her "cheeky little chappie" who died after being thrown in a river.

Zakari William Bennett-Eko, who 11-months-old, was pulled from the River Irwell near Radcliffe, Greater Manchester, at around 4.25pm on Wednesday afternoon.

Emergency services attended and the child was rushed to hospital where doctors battled to save the youngster's life.

Tragically, he was pronounced dead a short time later.

The boy's father, 22-year-old Zak Eko, appeared in court today charged with his murder and confirmed only his name, date of birth and that he is of no fixed address.

Emma Blood with baby Zak
Emma has revealed her devastation over the loss of her son

Now the boy's mum, 22-year-old Emma Blood, has revealed her anguish at his loss.

She said in a statement: “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 5 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.

The scene in Radcliffe where emergency services found the tragic youngster
Flowers and balloons line the pavement on the bridge, by which the baby was found

“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 his traumatic time.”

The 22-year-old dad appeared in court today over the alleged murder

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Specialist officers from Greater Manchester Police are continuing to support his devastated family, the force confirmed.

Tearful mourners left flowers, soft toys and candles at the scene in Radcliffe, which is a small town near Bury.

A card placed beside a large cuddly bear reads: "To a beautiful little boy. Sleep tight little man. Our thoughts are with your family. From all of us at Lidl Radcliffe."