The family of missing Sheffield boy Ben Needham have expressed ‘delight’ after a four-year-old girl was recovered from a Greek gypsy camp.
The young blonde girl was found living with a family she did not resemble and DNA tests revealed she was not related to them.
Officials believe she may have been a victim of abduction or child trafficking.
Kerry Needham, aged 41, whose son Ben disappeared 22 years ago, on the Greek Island of Kos, said: “My family and I are extremely delighted by the news of the girl who has been found in a gypsy camp in Larissa.
“We have always believed Ben’s abduction was gypsy-related and have had a long ongoing inquiry in Larissa.
“We hope the investigation into Ben’s disappearance will be looked at again.”
Police previously investigated the Larissa gypsy camp in 1996 after a prisoner in a Greek jail told police he believed Ben was being held by a local gypsy family.
The young girl’s discovery could spark a new hunt for Ben, who vanished in 1991 aged 21 months.
Ben’s sister Leighanna, 20, of Ecclesfield, said the discovery of Maria in the gypsy camp was welcome news for her family’s fight for answers.
She said: “It’s given us great hope. Obviously, it’s been a strong belief of myself and all my family that Ben was taken by gypsies for child trafficking or illegal adoptions and this case just shows they can be found.”
A statement on the ‘Help Find Ben Needham’ campaign’s Facebook page said: “We are keeping a close eye on developments in Greece, as an original lead in Ben’s case pointed to the same place this girl was found.
“That lead was never fully resolved.
“We hope this story will mean the lead will be fully reinvestigated and Ben’s DNA used in this current case to match against those involved. Ben may be a gypsy now and one of his own children could be found.”