As Ellie kidnap drama comes to court, family reveals tug-of-love Algarve dad “hasn’t paid a penny” in child support since 2011

The tortuous kidnap drama gripped the nation after Vilamoura businessman Filipe Silva hid his eight-year-old daughter Ellie from her distraught mother for seven agonising months. That was three years ago – but only now is the case against Silva coming to court.

Speaking to us from Ellie’s new home in Ireland, her mother Candice Gannon told the Resident that Silva will also face charges relating to his non-payment of child support.
“He hasn’t paid a penny in child support since 2011,” she said. “The criminal prosecutor has decided to try him for that, along with the kidnapping.”

But whatever happens when the case is heard next month (scheduled to start on Monday, March 16), Ellie and her mother will not be turning up to find out.

“We would never allow Ellie to step foot back in Portugal again,” Candice vowed.

The fears that she could somehow lose her child again were exacerbated last year when Portuguese TVI station carried a startling-biased report on Ellie’s story, just as the little girl was due to be returned to her mother after an enforced separation ordered by the courts (see:

Candice had had to be flown to Ireland for specialist treatment during her twin-pregnancy, and the Faro Child and Minors court did not allow Ellie to travel with her.

Instead she was made to live another seven months in a hotel with her father – the man who originally abducted her.

In that time, Silva contacted TVI and the damning report was aired the night Ellie flew out to Ireland.

“We were so lucky,” Candice told us at the time.

“If we hadn’t got out, it could all have ended so differently.”

But as it was, Ellie returned to the bosom of her amplified family (meeting the two little brothers she had never seen) and generally healing the emotional scars of the past.

Silva meantime has “made no attempt whatsoever to contact Ellie since last summer”, her mother told us.

“He has never once visited her in Ireland, and even if he did, Ellie would refuse to go with him as she is terrified he will kidnap her again”.

Thus, all the ‘evidence’ to be given by Ellie and her mother will have to be organised through video-link.

This may mean that the trial is delayed, says Candice as her lawyer has told her that video links “can take quite a bit of time to arrange”.

With any luck, the evidence Ellie gave state psychologists after her kidnap ordeal “will suffice for the criminal trial” said her mother – and leave Ellie, now aged 10, to the simple pleasures of childhood.

“She is enjoying sleepovers with school friends and loves her new school,” said Candice. “She is a big help with the twins and inseparable from Olivia (her youngest sister) who adores her. Life could not be better for us! A chill runs up my spine when I think that they almost got away with it. To think that Ellie was left in a hotel room with her kidnapper for seven months while they prepared his trial for full custody… Lies, deceit, corruption. It’s good to be back in civilisation!”

By NATASHA DONN [email protected]

Photo: Ellie with her younger sister Olivia pictured in Ireland