Monday, February 18, 2013
The father of schoolgirl Ellie Silva has broken his silence to claim he took her from her mother out of love and desperation.
Filipe Silva insisted he had no regrets about his decision to risk kidnap charges and a 10-year jail sentence by refusing to return the eight- year-old after a summer holiday last year.
Mr Silva claimed Ellie was "happy" during the seven months his ex-partner, Candice Gannon, was unable to see her daughter.
In an interview with a Portuguese TV station, Mr Silva vowed to continue fighting for Ellie despite the country’s courts awarding her mum custody.
Ms Gannon, 28, an Irish citizen, branded the interview "sickening".
She demanded police protection after reporting death threats at the safe house in Portugal where she has been staying with husband Philip Gannon, their daughter Olivia, two, and Ellie.
Ms Gannon, currently seeking permission to take her daughter back to her home in Ballsbridge, Dublin, for a holiday, was reunited with Ellie on Tuesday at a children’s home in the Algarve city of Faro.
The emotional reunion took place four days after Mr Silva was arrested and the day after his mother handed Ellie over to police in the northern city of Porto, where she is thought to have spent most of the last seven months.
It was the first time Ms Gannon had seen her daughter since handing her over to her ex at Dublin airport in July for a holiday.
Businessman Mr Silva, 34, was released on bail earlier this week but is still under official investigation on suspicion of kidnap.
He told Portuguese TV station TVi: "My actions were those of a desperate father, looking for the truth and the love of my daughter.
"I had information also that she was living abroad and my fear of not seeing my daughter again led me to take the decision to go and live with her in Porto."
Mr Silva insisted he had no regrets about taking Ellie from her mother, claiming: "When you act out of principle and values and love, you never think of the consequences."
Speaking over a home- made video he provided the TV station of his daughter dancing and singing with a friend to Will.i.am and Britney Spears’ song ‘Scream & Shout, he said: "She was always happy when she was with me."
Mr Silva allowed the TV station to broadcast photos and letters he claimed Ellie wrote to Ms Gannon, saying she loved her dad, as well as a psychologist’s report recommending the child lived with him.
He also accused Ms Gannon of upsetting Ellie by rebaptising her with her stepfather’s surname without his knowledge, disrupting her education by moving her between schools, and stopping her from learning Portuguese.
In a closing message to Ms Gannon, he vowed: "I will obviously continue to fight for my daughter."
Ms Gannon, who left the Portuguese mainland over the weekend to fly to Madeira, where Ellie was last attending school, said the interview was immoral.
"It defies belief that he can go on television after what he has done and blatantly lie like this," she said.
She refuted his claims, stressing her hope of relocating to Ireland was partly motivated by health reasons, and insisting she had never changed Ellie’s surname on any official documents.
"Decisions on Ellie’s custody have been issued by the district court, the high court, the supreme court, and the constitutional court," she said.
" Are we to accept the opinions of an independent psychologist paid by Filipe Silva in favour of the courts’ decisions? The courts awarded custody of Ellie to her mum and he, like everybody else, must abide by the courts’ decision."