Ben Needham search: Toddler ‘feared dead in digger crush’

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Missing toddler Ben Needham may have been crushed to death by a digger, campaigners searching for him have been told.

Ben, from Sheffield, was 21 months old when he disappeared on the Greek island of Kos on 24 July 1991.

The official campaign group, headed by his mother, said police were set to excavate two sites on the island.

Police, who suspect Ben died 25 years ago, have told his mother to “prepare for the worst”, the Daily Mirror says.

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Kerry Needham told the newspaper: “They are no longer looking for a missing person. How do I cope with that?”

No trace

Ben vanished after travelling to the island with his mother and grandparents who were renovating a run-down farmhouse building in the village of Iraklis.

The dig is to take place close to where Ben was last seen playing near his grandparents’ home.

Det Supt Matt Fenwick, of South Yorkshire Police, said: “There will be planned operational activity at two locations on the island that have been identified as areas of interest to the investigation.

“We continue to keep an open mind and have updated Ben’s family about certain lines of inquiry we’re currently exploring.”

He said an appeal in May, when officers returned to Kos to carry out house-to-house visits and distribute leaflets and posters, had “prompted new information and lines of inquiry”.


Timeline

  • 24 July 1991: Ben Needham vanishes after travelling to the Greek island of Kos with his mother and grandparents, who were renovating a farmhouse in the village of Iraklise.
  • September 1991: Ben’s family returns to England due to illness, but Ben’s mother Kerry Needham continues to campaign for her son to be found.
  • February 2011: Then-Prime Minister David Cameron responds to Mrs Needham, offering to support South Yorkshire Police and to press the Greek authorities.
  • May 2011: BBC airs a programme called “Missing 2011” which includes a segment on Ben.
  • September 2011: Greek police on Kos re-open Ben’s case.
  • October 2012: A police operation focusing on a mound of earth and rubble close to where Ben was last seen finds no trace of him.
  • October 2013: Police say a DNA test carried out on a man in Cyprus proves he is not Ben Needham.
  • March/April 2015: Another DNA test on another man in Greece proves negative.
  • January 2015: South Yorkshire Police gets £700,000 from the Home Office to continue the investigation.
  • March 2016: The force secures a further £450,000 in funding.
  • May 2016: A team of 10 South Yorkshire Police officers visits Kos to carry out house-to-house visits.
  • September 2016: Police say two locations on the island will be excavated.

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