Eric Nnanna's whole demeanour changes when her name is mentioned.

The 30-year-old is pensive, grieving, his life completely altered by a deeply personal tragedy that has been used to symbolise the wide ranging failures of a political system.

Eric was the partner of Mercy Baguma and is the father of their 16-month-old son.

Two weeks ago Mercy was a young mother, a partner, a friend, a woman with aspirations for her future.

Her sudden death at her home in Govan has caused trauma for those who knew her, which has been worsened by misinformation shared.

Eric is determined to correct some of this information before being allowed to care for and nurture toddler Adriel in private.


But first he talks of Mercy and, describing their chance first meeting, a pressure lifts from him and he smiles.

In 2017 Eric, who is originally from Nigeria, took his phone to be repaired at a shop run by a Nigerian friend. There was Mercy.

"That first day" he says, "When I saw her she was looking all beautiful and charming so... we got talking. Then we exchanged Facebook contacts and started chatting online before we met.

"I loved her personality. She was calm, so charming and lovely."

The couple moved in together and, last year, Adriel was born at Glasgow's Queen Elizabeth University Hospital.

Eric and Mercy knew the baby would be a boy and chose the name Adriel from the Bible. Mercy, Eric says, was a good mother and determined to do the best for her son.

Both were seeking asylum in the UK and so funds were tight but Eric talks of how they weaned their son, deciding he would not have pre-made baby food but vegetables and fruit prepared from scratch.

It is a poignant detail for Eric to share because reports of Mercy's death after she was found on August 22 were that she and Adriel were starving.

This, Eric is adamant, is not the case. Although he was receiving a payment of only £35 a week from the government, the family was supported by charities and their church.

The confusion seems to have come from reports that Adriel was malnourished when he was found, which is correct. But, otherwise, he was a healthy little boy - which is clear from the fact he survived four days without food or water.

Mercy, who came to the UK from Uganda, had lost her leave to remain and so, as someone seeking asylum, was no longer allowed to work.

In an email seen by the Glasgow Times, she had approached the charity Positive Action in Housing on August 11 to ask about applying for a grant.

Lockdown had not been easy for the couple. They had been living separately but in March moved in together and it had, in a way, been a happy time spent doing normal things - cooking together, watching TV and bonding as a family.

"For us," Eric said, "Mercy didn't have a family in the UK and I didn't have a family in the UK also, so looking after Adriel was all for us.

"At night I would stay awake and look after him while she sleeps, then during the day I would try to catch some rest and she looked after him. It was all us but I loved it, I really loved it.


"During lockdown it was financially a struggle but as a family it was really nice."

Eric came to the UK in 2008 to study at Aberdeen University from which he graduated in 2013 with a Masters degree in petroleum engineering.

Mercy was college educated with a ferocious work ethic. When her immigration status meant she could no longer work she continued to volunteer in the British Heart Foundation charity shop in Govan.

Her ambition was to join Police Scotland and the couple, with Adriel, went to an open day at the Scottish Police College at Tulliallan Castle in January this year.

Looking at Eric playing with Adriel, a bright, beautiful little boy who babbles and shouts "Goal!" at his football, it is easy to imagine the future Mercy might have had with a happy family and a successful career.

The trauma of what happened on Saturday, August 22 is absolutely fresh for Eric. "I feel shocked," he says.

"I still can't process it. I still can't believe it." He repeats these words twice more before describing Mercy's final days.

As lockdown eased Eric moved back to his own property but would still stay with Mercy and Adriel. He had been there from the preceding Friday but left on Tuesday, August 18 around 6am in the morning.

Mercy, who was fit and well, followed Eric into the hallway, said goodbye and locked the door behind him.

Eric is adamant that Mercy was to be moved into Mears accommodation on the Wednesday. They had arranged that she would take the basics with her when Mears staff came to collect her but then, once she could tell Eric her new address, they would return and he would help her pack and move the rest of her belongings.

Mears, the company providing housing for asylum seekers on behalf of the Home Office, says Mercy was "not a Mears service user" and referred the Glasgow Times to the Home Office.


The Home Office will only say that it "will be conducting a full investigation into Ms Baguma’s case."

Eric waited all day Wednesday to hear from Mercy. On Thursday, after multiple calls and text messages, he began to seriously worry. A friend was also calling him to say that she couldn't raise Mercy either.

Around 6pm on the Thursday he arrived at Mercy's Govan flat where a neighbour let him in to the building. He didn't have keys for the property and, after more than an hour of knocking on the door, he assumed she had indeed moved.

The silence continued through Friday and so on Saturday morning Eric determined to go back to the flat and "do everything possible to hear from her".

On Saturday morning he returned again and again knocked at the door. When there was no answer he lifted the letterbox and waved a hand through, rattling at the door. It was then Adriel began to cry.

"I don't know where he got the strength from," Eric says, "Because he had been there for so many days." He called the emergency services and two police attended.

They also could not gain access so more officers were sent to the scene and entry was forced.

"When they opened the door they said I shouldn't come into the flat," Eric said. "They said they saw Mercy's body lying in her hallway and Adriel was in his cot. He was found there by them.

"Adriel... when my mind takes me back there I cry. I don't know how to express that.

"Because obviously imagine that she died on the Tuesday night so Adriel didn't have food or water or anything from that Tuesday night until that Saturday morning when he was found so..."

Here Eric pauses to gather himself before going on."There was no strength. When I held him I was feeling his spine, his bones and then his nappy, the babygro that he was wearing was all stained with blood.

"It was something that I just can't imagine. He couldn't even stand.

"Adriel when he sees me he is always shouting 'Daddy, daddy, daddy' and I would go and carry him and lift him up.

"But he couldn't even recognise me. It is a miracle he survived."


Adriel stayed in hospital until the Monday when he was released into the care of his father. By this time the stories that Mercy had been starving had been widely reported.

Eric says: "There was a lot of fake news going around, the part where they said she starved to death was entirely wrong.

"Asylum seekers and refugees do not get a lot of support from the government but there are charities that help.

"To say that Mercy died of starvation or hunger is wrong - there were people there to help."

And people were desperate to help in the wake of Mercy's death. A crowdfunder set up has raised tens of thousands of pounds for Adriel, which will be put into a trust fund for him when he is older.

For now, Eric wants time for his son to heal. We go to the park where the wee one chases a football with clear delight but, while he laughs and shrieks, he also clings to his father.

"For those few days when he was in that flat he would have felt abandoned, that there was no one there for him," Eric says, "So he needs time to be reassured that his daddy is there and promises him he will never go.

"Right now he doesn't let me go out of his sight, he follows me everywhere, he needs that attention. He needs reassurance and lots and lots of love.

"My hope for him is for him to grow up knowing that his dad will always be there for him, that his dad will love him and care for him and when he grows older I will tell him how loving his mum was."