Ellie to go home

Judge (finally) agrees: “Ellie to go home”

A Faro judge has finally pronounced on the heartbreaking custody battle that saw nine-year-old Ellie Kelly Silva kidnapped from her mother and kept in hiding by her father for seven agonising months.
But it is not over yet.
Ellie is still in Madeira with her father Filipe Silva and grandmother – and despite the Judge having found “100% in favour” of Ellie’s mother Candice, the family will not truly believe it has won until Ellie is home safe and sound with her baby brothers and four-year-old sister Olivia.
“It is tricky”, stepfather Philip Gannon agreed after receiving the news the family has fought six agonisingly painful years for.
“There have been so many twists along the way and until Ellie is safely back in Ireland, we still have a lot to worry about.
The huge plus is that at long last the law has come out categorically on the family’s side.
“The Faro court judge found 100% in Candice’s favour and awarded her full custody (which of course she already had)”, Philip Gannon told us.
“This was a 500-page decision which is very detailed and highly critical of Ellie’s father’s behaviour”, he added.
“The police have not given powers to use force to take Ellie to the airport, but I think the court will react very quickly if her father tries the “she doesn’t want to go” ruse!”
Gannon is now preparing to fly to Funchal within the next few days to finally bring his step-daughter home.
Wife Candice has to remain in Ireland as she is still recovering from an extremely difficult twin birth, and her babies are too young for the ride.
Talking about the judge’s decision, Gannon said: “The judge confirmed that Candice did nothing wrong, acknowledged that the kidnapping was totally unjustifiable and ordered that Ellie should be raised by her mother in Ireland.
“Candice will exercise full parental responsibility over all day-to-day issues and will exclusively decide on Ellie’s place of education in Ireland.
“Ellie will spend Easter and Summer holidays in the Algarve with her father (if he is not imprisoned for kidnapping her).
“This is very good news – it could not be better in fact! It has taken over six years to get a decision from the Portuguese courts to legally relocate Ellie out of Portugal.
“Six long hard years of constant battle on a daily basis with two trails for custody, a kidnapping and decisions from the high court, Supreme Court and constitutional court – all done in a foreign language!”
Now, in what should be the final hurdle, Gannon is setting about informing Filipe Silva’s lawyer “of a time and place” where Ellie can be collected.
Notwithstanding the mental trauma that the last few years have caused both Ellie and her mother – not to mention other family members – bystanders are still reeling over the fact that a custody hearing could have gone ahead at all when one parent was awaiting trial for kidnapping the child in question.
Filipe Silva spent seven months on-the-run with his daughter after abducting her in the summer of 2012, yet a trial date for this offence has still to be announced.
Even more baffling were the revelations last month that an Albufeira magistrate had been in touch with Silva and his mother during Ellie’s kidnapping, and had been firmly on the duo’s side.
It was “twists” like this that kept Ellie’s mother and stepfather in states of permanent suspension and mental turmoil.
Even Ellie’s little sister Olivia appears to have felt the strain.
“She has been asking us every day when Ellie is coming home”; Gannon told us. “Now at least we can give her an answer”.
The Algarve Resident hopes to bring further news of Ellie’s longed-for return to her family as soon as it happens.