Nearly three years after Filipe Silva disappeared on holiday with his daughter Ellie – keeping her from mother Candice for seven agonising months – his criminal prosecution for kidnapping has been yet again delayed. The case which should have started on Wednesday is now scheduled to be heard in October, and even then, there is no guarantee of a firm date.
Talking to the Irish Examiner this week, Candice – who now lives in Ireland with her daughter and growing family – said she doesn’t think Silva “will ever pay for what he did”.
She claims the Portuguese justice system has “bent over backwards” for the father of her eldest daughter, while she has been treated like “a nasty foreigner”.
As national and UK media have repeatedly claimed, Candice has long felt victimised by the Portuguese justice system.
Indeed a leaked court report shown to the Resident last year revealed shocking behind-the-scenes manoeuvres by a female Albufeira magistrate caught in phone taps with Silva’s mother who kept in close touch with her son throughout the months he was “on the run” with Ellie.
The conversations showed “without any shadow of doubt, that the magistrate was firmly on the side of Ellie’s father”, explained Candice, but incredibly Évora judges did not see it that way, and refused to acknowledge any evidence of complicity.
This latest delay in bringing the case to justice has been blamed on a court “foul-up”.
Candice, her businessman husband Philip Gannon, and Ellie were all due to give evidence by video link from Dublin but the Portuguese court system “did not submit the correct paperwork”, claims the Examiner.
“They left out names, the case number, and half the information that was needed,” Philip, 48, told the paper.
“Our suspicions are that this was done deliberately to add further delays to the trial.
“But given the total incompetence that we have seen from the Faro courts over the past few years, it is possible that it was just a case of stupidity.
“One notorious kidnapping case in Portugal over a 12-year-old boy took 12 years to go to trial. The Portuguese court system has a backlog of 20,000 cases so we don’t know what’s going to happen.”
As the family wait, saying they want to see Ellie’s father convicted, the Examiner reports that Silva’s €165,000 home in Vilamoura has gone up for auction “to discharge his large debt for non-payment of child support since 2011”.
As we reported in February, since Ellie has been living in Ireland in the sole custody of her mother, Silva has “never once visited” her, and Candice claims her 10-year-old daughter is still “terrified” that he might try and kidnap her again.
By NATASHA DONN