Portugal kidnap trial put back to October by foul-up

The mother of kidnapped schoolgirl Ellie Silva will have to wait more months for justice.

The trial of Ellie’s father, Filipe Silva, was due to start in Portugal tomorrow, nearly three years after he took the now 10-year-old from her mother, Candice, and went on the run for seven months.

However, the case has been put back at least to October because of a foul-up by the Portuguese authorities.

Candice, husband Philip Gannon, and Ellie were all due to give evidence by video link from Dublin but the Portuguese court system did not submit the correct paperwork.

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Candice, 30, said last night: “I don’t think Filipe will ever pay for what he did. Ellie is scared he will come over here and take her again.

“He had her locked up in a hotel room for seven months but over there he’s the homeboy and I am just a nasty foreigner.

“They have always bent over backwards for him. He was arrested over two years ago and we want to see him convicted.”

Candice’s businessman husband Philip, 48, said they applied to give evidence by video link last February and it was accepted by the court.

When he enquired last week why it had not been arranged for tomorrow the Dublin authorities said Portugal had submitted an incomplete application.

“They left out names, the case number, and half the information that was needed,” said Philip.

“Our suspicions are that this was done deliberately to add further delays to the trial.

“But given the total incompetence that we have seen from the Faro courts over the past few years, it is possible that it was just a case of stupidity.

“One notorious kidnapping case in Portugal over a 12-year-old boy took 12 years to go to trial. The Portuguese court system has a backlog of 20,000 cases so we don’t know what’s going to happen.”

Ellie’s kidnapping made headlines in both countries when Filipe, 37, took her for a two-week holiday in Portugal in July 2012 but then went on the run.

He was arrested in February 2013 after police tracked him to Lisbon, hundreds of miles from his home in the Algarve, where he had kept Ellie in a hotel room.

It was three months before Ellie was allowed to leave Portugal and fly back to her mother, sister Olivia, 4, and the twin brothers she had never seem, Charles and Henry, who are now 14 months.

Candice had met Filipe on a holiday to the Algarve in 2003 when she was 19 and he 26. He persuaded her to move in with him but he deserted her after Ellie was born.

Coincidentally, Silva’s €165,000 home in Vilamoura is being sold by auction today by enforcement officers to discharge his large debt for non-payment of child support since 2011.

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