THE mum of missing Sheffield boy Ben Needham has welcomed speculation police are to dig up a mound of earth where it is feared her son is buried - but called for a fresh manhunt to be launched if nothing is found.
Officers from South Yorkshire Police have held discussions with Greek police about digging up a site on the island of Kos where Ben vanished in 1991 aged 21 months.
It is believed Ben could have been accidentally buried under rubble dumped by a JCB driver who was excavating earth on the day the child disappeared from his grandparents’ house.
Ben’s mum Kerry Needham, aged 40, said the prospect of searching for her son’s body was a ‘horrendous thought’, and urged police to launch a new search if nothing is found.
“It has been really depressing and it’s a horrendous thought they would be digging up the ground looking for a dead body,” she said.
“But I try to keep a positive mind and think only good can come of this.
“Once they have done it and not found Ben, the Greek police and everyone else in the world will know my son’s alive. Then we can have a big manhunt.”
Kerry continued: “It will lay to rest a lot of island gossip - that it was an accident, that the family had something to do with it, that there’s no smoke without fire.
“This has been like living a nightmare. It can send you to the brink of insanity and it has done.
“I think these suspicions have hindered the investigation from the start.”
She said the Home Office should step in and provide funding for the exercise.
“If the resources are provided to dig this area, we can move on and start a real search for Ben,” Kerry added.
A JCB driver called Konstantinos Barkas has confirmed he was excavating the land near Ben’s grandparents’ house.
On the day the child disappeared, Mr Barkas was dumping loads from his digger onto the edge of the field where he was playing.
A spokesman for South Yorkshire Police said members of the cold case team visited Kos recently for talks about the dig.
“Discussions are ongoing as to a further search in the area where Ben went missing,” he added.
“The investigation into the disappearance remains with the Greek authorities.
“Should they request any help or support we will look to support them where we can and within our resources.
“The force’s role is primarily to provide ongoing support to Ben’s family, in particular his mum Kerry.”
“South Yorkshire Police continue to undertake a review of material gathered locally during the past 20 years, with officers also working with other agencies to examine any material held by them to further the review.”