Disappeared and Abducted Children and Young Adults > Portugal's missing children and child kidnapping cases.

Algarve businessman to stand trial after fleeing with daughter.

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Mother has not seen daughter for 3 months

17 October 2012

Felipe Silva abducted daughter Ellie (right) while on a holiday to Portugal.

For three long months Candice Gannon has not see her daughter, Giselle Candice Kelly Silva, affectionately named as Ellie, aged seven.  The child's father, Philip Silva, 35, who resides in Vilamoura (Loulé), ignored an Order of the Faro Family and Minor Court and disappeared with their daughter.  In desperation, the mother created a website [http://reuniteellie.webs.com] to publicize the case and try to get clues to the whereabouts of the girl.  "The last time I saw Ellie was on the 15th of July. Her father and I agreed that Ellie would be with him for two weeks in the Algarve and should return on July 31, which did not happen," said Candice Gannon, 27, Irish and resident in Funchal on the island of Madeira.  Since then, she has only spoke with her daughter three times, most recently on 5 August.  "She seemed stressed or scared. Someone told her to answer only 'yes,' no ',' do not know' "she recalls.  Since then, she has only seen her ex-partner at a parental hearing on 6 September.  On September 13, the Faro Family and Minor Court issued a warrant of location and delivery of the child to the mother, the interdiction to leave the country and the inclusion of child's data in the Schengen Information System.  "It is very difficult not knowing if my daughter is alive or dead," lamented Candice, who filed a criminal complaint of subtraction of a minor, which is in the process of being investigated.

The CM attempted to contact Filipe Silva, but he did not answer our calls



Father refuses to say where his daughter is

10 February 2013

He refused to say where his daughter Ellie (8) was after having kidnapped her for six months, and was placed in custody awaiting trial.  Filipe Silva, captured yesterday by the Judicial Police, was heard by a judge for more than 12 hours at the Court of Faro, and held the position of not cooperating with the Justice.  "I will not say anything until the trial," said the Vilamoura businessman at the court entrance.  According to the CM found, Filipe Silva, 34, was repeatedly warned to change his attitude and say where his daughter was.  However, he declined to cooperate with the authorities, who continued yesterday to make several attempts to locate little Ellie. 

The mother, Candice Kelly, told CM she was contacted by Portuguese police but never by Philip's family.  Are in panic. No news about her daughter.  "It is very disgusting not knowing where Ellie is. When the phone rings, you don't know if it will be good news or terrible," blurted the mother, adding that, "this is the most dangerous moment in Ellie's life."

The child's grandmother assured the CM that Ellie is safe.  "She's fine but do not want to talk more about it. There will be an ideal time to talk and we will tell you all there," she said. 

The CM found before the capture Filipe Silva that the PJ had already prepared a trap in order to recover the child.  They planned to captured the father and expected to find and rescue the child safely in the next hours.


Mum tells of nightmare wait to bring Ellie home after alleged kidnapping

Independent Ireland
18 February 2013

Candice Gannon with daughter Ellie Silva (8), husband Philip and younger daughter Olivia (2) in Madeira, Portugal.

THE mother of eight-year-old Ellie Silva, who was taken by her Portuguese father for seven months, has said she doesn't know when she'll be able to take her daughter home to Ireland.

Candice Gannon has spoken of her frustration over the slow-moving Portuguese legal system and her fear that the schoolgirl's father, Filipe Silva, may try to take his daughter again.

There is no restraining order against the 34-year-old businessman and joint parental authority granted to him by a Portuguese court last year means that he still has visitation rights and a say in where she lives.

Ms Gannon (27) said she did not know when Portuguese authorities would allow her to bring her daughter home to Ireland.

"It's just awful what's going on," she told the Irish Independent. "It's one thing after another. How much more do we have to go through as a family?"

Father Filipe Silva (left) on way to a previous Court appearance.

Mr Silva (34) allegedly kidnapped his daughter after he collected her from Ms Gannon at Dublin Airport last July for a two-week holiday.

Ms Gannon didn't see Ellie for seven months until they were reunited last week when Mr Silva's mother handed her granddaughter over to Portuguese authorities.

Mr Silva had been arrested four days earlier on February 8 and was released on bail while he is investigated on suspicion of kidnapping his daughter.

He has since given a TV interview in which he said he had no regrets about taking Ellie, vowing he would continue his efforts to win custody of his daughter.

Ms Gannon, meanwhile, remains on the Portuguese island of Madeira as she doesn't have permission to return to Ireland with Ellie. She has lived there for the past five years as the custody battle raged in the courts.

"I'm just so happy that I've got my daughter back and she's safe," she said. But she added: "What we're feeling sick about every day is, is he going to take her away from me again?

"It's a nightmare at the moment."

Ellie had "been through hell and back and she's going to need a lot of support", Ms Gannon said.

"She really doesn't need her father to come over and interrupt all of that and upset her because, ultimately, I'm an adult and he's an adult, but she's only eight years old and she's the one who's going to get affected in the long run."

Her husband, Irishman Philip Gannon, said it was always the family's intention to settle in Ireland but that they were "trapped" in Portugal due to Mr Silva's parental rights.

He said Ms Gannon had written to Mr Silva last summer asking for permission to move Ellie to Ireland but was refused.

Meanwhile, Ms Gannon rejected as "rubbish" allegations by Mr Silva in a Portuguese TV interview that she had changed his daughter's second name to Gannon, disrupted her education and stopped her from learning Portuguese.

In the interview he said that taking his daughter were the actions of a "desperate father, looking for the truth and the love of my daughter".

He added: "I will obviously continue to fight for my daughter.


Mr Moderator:
Shock court decision opens new can of worms in Ellie kidnap case

4 March 2014

A leaked court report has revealed extraordinary behind-the-scenes manoeuvres by an Albufeira magistrate in the high-profile abduction of nine-year-old British Ellie (Giselle Silva) by her Portuguese father, Filipe Silva.

The report, shown to the Resident over the weekend, itemises no less than 25 tapped phone conversations that took place between the magistrate and Ellie’s paternal grandmother early last year as the net tightened around Silva following seven-months ‘on-the-run’ with his daughter.

The conversations show that the magistrate was firmly on the side of Ellie’s father.

In one, she tells Silva’s mother: “Everyone knows it isn’t kidnapping…”; in another she advises the woman “not to worry” and tells her it is very important for her son to say “that he doesn’t want to make a statement” when questioned by police.

The fact that the inquiry went on to find that there was no evidence of complicity between the female magistrate and Filipe Silva has “appalled” even those outside the child’s Irish family.

Ellie’s mother Candice Gannon said at the weekend that even Portuguese people who have read the document are astounded - both by the involvement of a criminal prosecutor as by the decision of the high court of Évora “not to see anything wrong with the involvement”.

“Like everybody else, I am very concerned about this decision which seems to ignore the very obvious moral and ethical issues regarding the highly unusual level of help and assistance offered to an Algarvian ‘arguido’ by an Algarvian criminal public prosecutor,” she told us.

“Everybody I have spoken to agrees it is exactly as we thought it was all along - a case of out-and-out corruption in which Ellie and I never stood a chance.

“I would be lying if I said that this document did not confirm what most people already knew about this case over the past 20 months - corrupt Portuguese officials supporting the local national, without any regard whatsoever for either the child or the child's distraught mother (a foreigner!)”.

Candice, now married to Philip Gannon, and a long-time resident on the island of Madeira added: “Needless to say, we will be looking for our own answers to these questions in the European courts in what is sure to become a very high profile ECHR case against Portugal.”

As Candice spoke to us, Ellie remains confined to a hotel in Funchal with her father because Faro Civil Court refused to allow her to travel to Ireland with her family.

This side of the drama (reported in the Resident in November) came after Candice’s twin-pregnancy developed complications late last year. The 29-year-old has had to remain in Ireland awaiting the birth of her sons, due to be induced this week.

Meantime, Silva still awaits his trial over the kidnapping of Ellie in the summer of 2012. He has since filed for full custody of his daughter, and that application is due to be heard on March 24 in Faro.


Tug-of-love schoolgirl Ellie Silva homeward bound for emotional reunion with her mum

5 May 2014
By Gerard Couzens

The joyous reunion is taking place after a Portuguese court decided last week that Ellie's dad should hand her back to her mum Candice.

Tug-of-love schoolgirl Ellie Silva is on her way back to Ireland for an emotional reunion with overjoyed mum Candice Gannon.

Ellie, nine, started her journey back to Dublin just after midday today after Portuguese police forced dad Filipe Silva to hand her over to Candice’s husband Philip.

Silva, 36, turned up at Funchal airport in Madeira just after 9am claiming he had lost Ellie’s travel documents.

But police made him obey a court order after officials said she could travel to Ireland on an emergency passport provided by a British consul.

Ellie’s British-born mum Candice, 29, who has dual nationality because of her Irish dad, was expected to be reunited with her daughter late this evening.

She has arranged to take her new-born twins Henry and Charles and Ellie’s sister Olivia, three, to Dublin Airport to meet her and businessman Philip, 47, off their plane before their first meal together in nearly seven months at their home in nearby Ballsbridge.

Speaking shortly before they boarded their first flight to London ahead of a second flight later today to Dublin, Mr Gannon said: “Ellie is over the moon to be heading back.

“She can’t wait to see her mum and her brothers and sister.

“It’s a really happy ending. It was a moment of real relief when Filipe Silva handed her over.

A family friend added: “About seven police turned up at Funchal Airport to make sure (Silva) complied with the court order.

“He arrived with a lawyer and a Portuguese TV crew and claimed he’d lost Ellie’s travel documents, having filed a complaint yesterday to the court claiming Philip and Ellie would be travelling on forged documents.

“His face dropped when Philip produced the emergency passport a British consul had very kindly flown to Madeira with.

“He’s breached the court order by not giving Ellie her travel documents back. He has her passport and identity card.”

A court in Faro rejected Silva’s bid for custody of Ellie last month and gave Candice permission to raise her in Ireland, ending years of legal wrangling over the youngster.

The mum-of-four was forced to return to Ireland last October because of a health problem to her recently-born twin boys.

Last week worried Candice persuaded an Algarve court to give police powers to compel Silva to obey the court order.

He still faces a kidnap trial over his alleged July 2012 abduction of his daughter, kept from Candice for nearly seven months at a hideaway in the northern Portuguese city of Porto.

Ellie, ten in December, has been living in a grubby hotel in Madeira with Silva and his mum Ana Maria since Candice’s forced return to Ireland last year.

Candice accused her ex of abusing the Portuguese legal system after being told police would force him to hand their daughter over to her.



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