Tug-of-love girl Ellie finally flies home to Dublin
Nine-year-old to be reunited with her mother this evening as her father Filipe faces kidnapping charges
TUG-OF-LOVE schoolgirl Ellie Gannon is finally on her way back to Ireland for an emotional reunion with her overjoyed mother.
Ellie's mother, Dublin-based Candice Gannon (29), has been fighting a long battle for her daughter which has resulted in her being granted full custody.
Nine-year-old Ellie's father, Filipe Silva (36), is facing kidnapping charges after taking Ellie almost two years ago.
Ellie started her journey back to Dublin just after midday today after Portuguese police forced her dad to hand her over to Candice’s husband Philip.
Silva turned up at Funchal airport in Madeira just after 9am claiming he had lost Ellie’s travel documents.
But police made him obey a court order after officials said she could travel to Ireland on an emergency passport provided by a British consul.
Ellie’s British-born mum Candice, 29, who has dual nationality because of her Irish dad, was expected to be reunited with her daughter late this evening.
She has arranged to take her new-born twins Henry and Charles, and Ellie’s sister Olivi (3) to Dublin airport to meet her and businessman Philip (47) off their plane before their first meal together in nearly seven months at their home in Ballsbridge.
Speaking shortly before they boarded their first flight to London ahead of a second flight later today to Dublin, Mr Gannon said: “Ellie is over the moon to be heading back.
“She can’t wait to see her mum and her brothers and sister.
“It’s a really happy ending. It was a moment of real relief when Filipe Silva handed her over.
A family friend added: “Silva had to be forced to hand her over. About seven police turned up at Funchal airport to make sure he complied with the court order.
“He arrived with a lawyer and a Portuguese TV crew and claimed he’d lost Ellie’s travel documents, having filed a complaint yesterday to the court claiming Philip and Ellie would be travelling on forged documents.
“His face dropped when Philip produced the emergency passport a British consul had very kindly flown to Madeira with, knowing that Silva would try to pull some last-minute stunt.
“He’s breached the court order by not giving Ellie her travel documents back. He has her passport and identity card.”
A court in Faro rejected Silva’s bid for custody of Ellie last month and gave Candice permission to raise her in Ireland, ending years of legal wrangling over the youngster.
The mum-of-four was forced to return to Ireland last October because of a health problem to her recently-born twin boys.
Last week worried Candice persuaded an Algarve court to give police powers to compel Silva to obey the court order.
He still faces a kidnap trial over his alleged July 2012 abduction of his daughter, kept from Candice for nearly seven months at a hideaway in the northern Portuguese city of Porto.
Ellie, 10 in December, has been living in a grubby hotel in Madeira with Silva and his mum Ana Maria since Candice’s forced return to Ireland last year.
Candice accused her ex of abusing the Portuguese legal system after being told police would force him to hand their daughter over to her.