Police’s field search for Sheffield Ben draws a blank

Police and Greek mountain rescue teams have a pre-dig briefing at Kos farmhouse
Police and Greek mountain rescue teams have a pre-dig briefing at Kos farmhouse
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POLICE officers searching for Ben Needham - the Sheffield toddler who disappeared on the Greek island of Kos – have completed their search of a field near where he disappeared.

A team from South Yorkshire travelled to the holiday isle earlier this week to look for the possible remains of Ben, who was aged just 21 months when he disappeared from outside a farmhouse his grandparents, Eddie and Christine Needham, were renovating in 1991.

Police have spent the week searching a field next to the farmhouse, where a builder was dumping rubble on the day Ben vanished.

Greek authorities wanted to rule out the possibility Ben may have wandered into the field and been accidentally buried.

Detective Superintendent Matt Fenwick South Yorkshire Police said: “Police teams out in Kos have not found anything this week.

“The search was completed at 4pm, Greek time yesterday.

“South Yorkshire Police are continuing to support the Greek authorities and Ben’s family.”

Specialist equipment including ground scanners were used in the search to look for signs of a child’s body.

South Yorkshire Police dogs trained to detect human remains were also used, but by yesterday afternoon the search team had failed to unearth anything of significance.

Some fragments of metal toys were found, leading to fears they may have been the Dinky cars Ben was playing with when he vanished.

But yesterday, with most of the field excavated, there were no signs of Ben’s body.

Det Supt Fenwick said yesterday: “We found a lot of animal bones, toys, rubbish, beer cans and so forth.

“It’s a been a difficult, but very thorough examination of the land.

“Even after the search we’ve done, you can never say 100 per cent, but the search has been so extensive and thorough that once complete it will be very unlikely he (Ben) could be in the specific locations we’ve searched.”

Ben’s mum Kerry Grist, aged 40, of Ecclesfield, has always maintained her son is still alive and believes he was abducted.

She travelled to Kos with the search team, but said she was viewing the excavation of the field as a ‘elimination’ exercise.

Supt Fenwick said: “It’s been difficult and distressing for Kerry as we have been following a line of inquiry that could only have meant Ben had died.”

Speaking about the disappearance of her son 21 years ago, Kerry said: “We all live with broken hearts although we try to live a normal life as possible. It really does physically feel like my heart is broken.

“My dad had a heart attack several years ago and it was because it was broken. I still get scared if I start crying it won’t stop.”