Tug-of-love dad accused of kidnapping Ellie (8)
PORTUGUESE public prosecutors have formally accused tug-of-love schoolgirl Ellie Silva's dad of kidnap.
Filipe Silva was informed of the news by his lawyer nearly a year after he took Ellie away from her Dublin home and anguished mum Candice, and sparked a seven-month nightmare for her which only ended with his arrest by police.
It paves the way for a kidnap trial against Mr Silva, which could see him jailed for up to 10 years. He has been the subject of an official kidnap investigation led by a criminal court in the Algarve city of Faro since the start of the year.
Candice Gannon (28), who currently lives in Madeira with Ellie (8), her Dublin-born husband Philip, and their three-year-old daughter Olivia, said yesterday: "We're very happy because we were giving up hope and starting to feel bitter.
"It's a significant development."
Entrepreneur Mr Gannon added: "He may not end up getting 10 years in jail for kidnap but seeing him tried and punished for what he put us through will be satisfying."
Algarve-born Mr Silva disappeared with his daughter last July after collecting her from Dublin Airport for a fortnight's holiday – after her mother brought her to meet him from their Ballsbridge, Dublin home.
Mr Silva still has visitation rights and is attempting to obtain full custody of Ellie through a civil court.
Mum and daughter were reunited in February this year at a children's home in Faro after Mr Silva (35) was arrested near Lisbon on suspicion of kidnap and arranged his daughter's handover following several days of interrogation.
It emerged afterwards that Ellie had been kept in a flat in the northern Portuguese city of Porto, where she was reportedly forced to wear a disguise and call herself Pipinha.
Ellie now spends every other weekend with her birth father on the island of Madeira, where she is currently living.
A court has also allowed Mr Silva to take her on holiday next week despite the criminal case.