Ben Needham's family given fresh hope on 30th anniversary of Sheffield toddler's disappearance as new witnesses emerge
The mum of missing Sheffield toddler Ben Needham has vowed to keep searching as police investigate reports from new witnesses 30 years after his disappearance.
Ben was just 21 months old when he vanished on the Greek island of Kos, and police believe he died on July 24, 1991 in a tragic accident involving heavy machinery.
But his body has never been discovered and his mum, Kerry Needham, still holds out hope that he may be found alive.
Speaking ahead of the 30th anniversary of his disappearance, she told the Daily Mirror: “I still have that hope that South Yorkshire Police are wrong.
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“And while there is no evidence to show me, I have to believe he is still alive.
“There’s not a single thread of evidence to say otherwise.”
Greek authorities have also confirmed that they are following up information from new witnesses after three people contacted the Help Find Ben Needham Facebook page saying they had seen a boy matching Ben’s description around the time of his disappearance.
The Hellenic Ministry of Citizen Protection said it was ‘currently investigating’ information passed on by the British authorities and would send the results back to its colleagues in Britain once its investigations are complete.
Speaking to ITV Calendar about the possibility of a new breakthrough after all these years, Ms Needham said: “I absolutely do not want to build my hopes up because it’s devastating if it’s bad news at the end of the day so I’m trying to keep an open mind on it.
“I’m just really happy that the Greek police are going to investigate and are taking it really seriously.”
A South Yorkshire Police spokeswomann said: “We continue to hold the view that Ben died as a result of a tragic accident on the day of his disappearance. However, should any new viable line of inquiry come to light, we would seek to work with the Greek authorities to support them in their investigations.”
ITV Calendar reported how the new witnesses recalled seeing a young lost child who had been brought into a campsite in Corfu in the early 1990s and when asked a question had answered in English. One of the witnesses said no family at the campsite had claimed him.
Ben was playing outside a remote farmhouse his grandparents were renovating when he disappeared.
He had travelled to Kos with his mum, who wanted to start a new life closer to where her parents Eddie and Christine had moved to.
In October 2016, following a three-week search in Kos, South Yorkshire Police announced that detectives believed Ben died as a result of an accident close to where he was last seen alive.
Investigations established that on the day Ben disappeared, a digger had been clearing land nearby.
Speaking at the time, then Detective Inspector Jon Cousins said: “My team and I know that machinery, including a large digger, was used to clear an area of land on 24 July 1991, behind the farmhouse that was being renovated by the Needhams.
“It is my professional belief that Ben Needham died as a result of an accident near to the farmhouse in Iraklis where he was last seen playing.”