All I want is my little Ellie back, says distraught mum
ALL Candice Gannon wants for Christmas is her seven-year-old daughter back.
She has spent the past two months desperately searching for Ellie after her former Portuguese partner allegedly went into hiding with the little girl following a two-week-holiday in the Algarve in July.
Despite the fact that a family court in Faro instructed Filipe da Silva on September 6 to immediately return the child, her mum has not seen her since she waved goodbye at Dublin Airport.
In just 10 days, Ellie will celebrate her eighth birthday.
Candice has no idea if she is OK and is concerned about Filipe's mental state as he seems to have gone on the run.
Candice, who is married to Dublin businessman Philip Gannon, with whom she has a two-year-old daughter, Olivia, fears something "sinister" may have happened to Ellie.
The child is possibly being dragged from one "safe" house to another by an increasingly desperate Filipe, Mr Gannon said.
"I have watched Candice crying every day and night at all the things she is missing," he said.
The couple continue to receive emails from the school Ellie attends. Each one is a sad reminder of what the little girl should be doing.
Ellie was living in Madeira with her mother, stepfather and Olivia, after Ms Gannon won full custody of her in 2010, following a prolonged court battle.
She was handed over to her father, Filipe Jose Nascimento da Silva (35), on July 15 for a two-week holiday in his Algarve hometown of Vilamoura, but he failed to return Ellie on the agreed date of July 31.
Ms Gannon (28) met Filipe on holiday when she was 19 and the couple separated when their daughter was three months old.
Since July, she has spoken to her little girl just three times by phone and has had no direct contact since August 5.
"I had a very nervous phone call off her. She said, 'Mummy I miss you and I love you'. She sounded very sad. I don't even know even know where she is or if she is alive," Ms Gannon said.
She is increasingly frustrated with the Portuguese police, who have not issued a warrant for Filipe's arrest for child abduction.
Since the court hearing, the Gannons have spent eight weeks in Portugal searching for Ellie and have been in the Algarve four times, where the case is being handled by the same station that handled the Madeleine McCann disappearance.
They are spending Christmas in Ireland to offer some stability to Olivia.
"The psychological damage this must be doing to her, to be ripped away from her mother, and spend months not being allowed to talk to her," Ms Gannon said.
She hopes that through raising awareness, someone will eventually help her reunite with her daughter.
For more information, go to www.reuniteellie.com