The partner of an asylum seeking mum found dead with her starving baby told how it was a ‘miracle’ the tot survived.
Mercy Baguma, 34, was found dead on August 22, with her one-year-old baby, Adriel, beside her.
Her partner, Eric Nnanna, 30, had gone to Mercy’s flat in Govan, Glasgow, but could get no response, and heard the baby crying.
Eric called police who made the tragic discovery, with 16-month-old Adriel so weak from starvation he was unable to stand up in his cot.
The young dad had been round two days previously and knocked for an hour, but got no answer, and wondered if Mercy had moved, as she had been expecting to do.
The couple, who had been together for three years, had lived together at the start of the lockdown, and enjoyed spending time together as a family.
Mercy, originally from Uganda, was unable to work due to her asylum situation but continued to volunteer in a charity shop, and had ambitions to join Police Scotland.
Eric said: “When they opened the door they said I shouldn’t come into the flat.
“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 they 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.
“There was no strength.
“When I held him I was feeling his spine, his bones and then his nappy, the babygrow 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.
“I don’t know where he got the strength from, to cry, because he had been there for so many days.”
Money was tight for the couple due to their immigration status, but they made baby food for Adriel from scratch.
Eric was receiving a payment of only £35 a week from the government, the family was supported by charities and their church.
He refuted the suggestion Mercy starved to death.
Eric said: “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 he recalled the moment he set eyes on his girlfriend, in a phone repair shop in 2017.
He had come to the UK from Nigeria in 2008 to study at Aberdeen University and also has an MA in petroleum engineering from there.
Eric said: “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.”
Adriel was born in the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow, and was named for a Biblical reference.
Eric added: “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.”
Heartbroken Eric is still reeling from the shock of losing his girlfriend, and says their little boy needs constant reassurance and attention following his harrowing ordeal.
Eric said: “For those few days when he was in that flat he would have felt abandoned, that there was no one there for him.
“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.”
A spokesman for the Home Office said: “We will be conducting a full investigation into Ms Baguma’s case.”