Belfast Telegraph

Monday 29 December 2014

Grandfather to help search for Ben

Ben Needham went missing in 1991 on the Greek island of Kos
Ben Needham went missing in 1991 on the Greek island of Kos
A digital portrait of how Ben Needham may look now

The grandfather of Ben Needham, who went missing 21 years ago on a Greek holiday island, has said he is heading to the place his grandson was last seen to help with the new police operation.

A team of British and Greek police and other experts began a search on Friday of land close to the farmhouse on Kos where Ben went missing in 1991. Ben, from Sheffield, vanished after he travelled to the island with his mother and grandparents, Eddie and Christine, who were renovating the building in the village of Iraklise.

Despite a number of possible sightings and a range of theories about what happened to him, no trace of the youngster has been found. The new police operation is focusing on a mound of earth and rubble close to where Ben was last seen.

On Friday, Ben's grandfather, Eddie Needham, told ITV Calendar News: "It's a massive operation. The least I can do is what the police ask me to do and come and show them where we did initially search the area and to point out where this mound was."

Mr Needham said he has been back to the location over the years. He said: "It was a very traumatic experience but I'm sure this time it is for an absolute reason."

Ben's mother, Kerry Needham, has consistently said she believes her son is still alive but she has supported the new search.

Her father said: "She's with her mum and her brother. She's been bearing up. She's trying to be as strong as she can but yesterday, as the time was getting closer for her to come here, she had an upset tummy. She was feeling sick with nerves obviously, anxiety I suppose."

The British team, led by Detective Superintendent Matt Fenwick, of South Yorkshire Police, is understood to be about 18-strong and includes dog teams and a forensic archaeologist.

Their search will focus on the grassed mound which is near a farmhouse next to the one Ben's grandparents were renovating in 1991 and where the youngster was last seen.

One theory is that it is building material which was dumped at the time the toddler went missing and the youngster could have been accidentally buried beneath it.

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