Coming face to face with ‘Ben’

Pictured is Kerry Needham with a picture of missing Ben when he was 18months old .
Pictured is Kerry Needham with a picture of missing Ben when he was 18months old .
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Devoted mum Kerry Grist has been left devastated after DNA tests dashed hopes that she had found her son Ben Needham - missing for 20 years.

Ben, then aged 21 months and now 22, disappeared as he played outside the farmhouse his grandparents Eddie and Christine were renovating on the Greek island of Kos in July 1991.

The youngster has never been found despite dozens of reported sightings since then.

But when Kerry and her dad Eddie flew out to Greece to follow a new lead Kerry believed she had found her son.

After being shown the man in a small town 280 miles from Athens near the border with Albania, it reinforced her belief he could be her own son.

A meeting was arranged at a local police station where Kerry, shaking with emotion, came face to face with the young man who has two children of his own.

He was described as having a nomadic existence and selling trinkets to tourists.

After being introduced to Kerry and being told of her search he agreed to take a DNA test - but after a five day wait she was told the test was negative.

After the disappointment Kerry, 37, who has a daughter Leighannam, said: “I couldn’t tell. I thought I’d be able to tell instantly if it was Ben but I can’t.

“I don’t know if it’s just that I want it to be but he did look like me he’s got the same shape nose and everything.

“At the police station my legs were shaking, they felt as though they would give way. When I was shown his driving licence the picture looked just like my brother.

“But he had brown eyes not blue. The suggestion that he was Ben apparently wasn’t new to him. He has been asked all his life if he is Ben and agreed to take a DNA test

“We had to wait five days but we thought it would be much longer. It was negative and it was devastating but at least it was quick.”

Kerry’s dad Eddie said: “He looks exactly like Kerry was. The same shaped nose, the same cheekbones same jawline everything it was just that it was the dark hair that is throwing us off.”

Kerry has now met Minister for Europe David Lidington after asking the government for help for years.

She said: “We have been asking for this support from the British authorities for 20 years. We have got to bring positive things into Ben’s search now.”

She is now planning a campaign in Greece to try and urge Ben to come forward himself so they can be reunited.

But Kerry admits even if she finds her son he is unlikely to return to live with her.

She added: “I’m never going to have that fairytale ending where he comes back and he moves back with me and his sister and his nanny and his grandad. I’m never going to have that. All those years have gone.

“You are trying to come to terms with something that happens only in films or nightmares. If I could just see him and see he is all right even if he just wanted to keep in contact it would be great.”