Eight-year-old Giselle Candice Kelly Silva (Ellie), who had been missing for seven months after her father Filipe Silva defied a court ruling to return the child to her Irish mother, was handed over to the police by her grandmother today (February 11).
In an email sent to the Algarve Resident today February 11 at 1.19pm, Ellie’s stepfather Philip Gannon said she had been found – “We are in a taxi on the way to Faro (via Paris).”
Her mother Candice Gannon and Philip were due to arrive in Faro this evening. Their lawyer Spencer Dohner told the Algarve Resident: “Ellie is well, in good health, and in the care of the Polícia Judiciária. She will be reunited with her mother as soon as she arrives.”
The lawyer said Ellie had been staying at an undisclosed location in the north of Portugal and that the child was handed over to the police by her grandmother, named in the press as Ana Maria.
Spencer Dohner, a specialist in criminal law, has been working tirelessly over the past months to ensure that these criminal complaints are properly processed, investigated and enforced so that Ellie can be returned safely to her mother’s custody in accordance with the decisions of the civil court. He said: “This is a very serious offence in Portugal and if convicted Mr. Silva and anybody else accused of being an accessory to this crime may face up to 10 years in prison.
“The investigation into Filipe Silva, the presumed kidnapper of Ellie Kelly Silva, is being conducted under the regime of secret justice and therefore the full details of this case are classified and will only be disclosed when an accusation has been made.”
Meanwhile, the Portuguese father who abducted his eight-year-old daughter and defied a court ruling to return the child to her Irish mother was located near Lisbon after a search of six months and arrested last Friday, February 8.
But after a 14-hour long interrogation, he still refused to reveal her whereabouts. On Saturday, he arrived in court in Faro escorted by police. His mother told members of the press outside the court that the child was well but refused to say more.
Filipe Silva, a contractor working in Vilamoura, was detained after a concentrated police investigation supported by an internet appeal on Facebook which attracted 10,000 people offering sympathy and support.
The internet search campaign was instigated by the Irish mother of the girl, Candice Gannon, who claims that the child’s father is “mentally unstable”.
Filipe Silva had ignored a court order in July to return Ellie Silva to her mother and the Polícia Judiciária subsequently made an order forbidding him to leave the country. Information on the abduction was disseminated to the EU authorities under the Schengen Exchange of Information agreement.
Filipe Silva had made a further voluntary appearance in court (Tribunal de Familia e Menores de Faro) in September when he was ordered to hand over Ellie Silva to her mother. He promised to fetch the girl but then disappeared with her.
Ellie had been staying on holiday with Filipe Silva at an apartment in Vilamoura owned by a member of his family before she and her father went missing.
Filipe Silva now faces a court hearing on the alleged charge of kidnapping his daughter.