leading a cold case search for missing Ben Needham are to get hundreds
of Greek witness statements translated into English.
One declaration is from a woman who claims to have seen a boy matching
Ben’s description at Kos airport on the day he disappeared.
Ben was 21 months old when he went missing in 1991. It is believed he
was abducted by a gypsy gang.
South Yorkshire Police is investigating and Ben’s mum, Kerry Grist, 39,
of Sheffield, said: “I feel like things are really starting to happen.”
In August police in Greece pledged to reignite their search for Ben and
vowed to make fresh enquiries.
Kerry was assured by a senior Greek prosecutor that they would leave “no
stone unturned” in the case.
She said at the time: “I feel at last that someone is going to help me.
I went home for the first time feeling that Ben is not forgotten.
“I know he is out there, not necessarily in Greece but somewhere in the
“There has suddenly been a massive turnaround. Before, I have left the
island disappointed, heartbroken by the lack of effort that the Greek
police have put in.
“Now there is a different attitude and the case is wide open again. I
left knowing that something is going to be done and hopefully it will
lead to finding Ben.”
She described how Greek cops spoke to her about “current” lines of
investigation. “The word current is significant,” she said.
“I am not building up my hopes because they have been dashed in the
past, but I am convinced I will find him. If he wasn’t still alive
something in my defence mechanism would tell me that. It hasn’t – and I
will never give up.”
Ben’s is one of the longest-running missing persons cases in British
history but has never received the same level of publicity as Madeleine
McCann’s 2007 disappearance.
He was snatched as he played outside a farmhouse his expat grandparents
Eddie and Christine Needham were renovating while Kerry was at work at a
The most recent lead came in July when a retired doctor came forward to
reveal a boy fitting Ben’s description visited his hospital months after
Sotiris Papachristoforou said: “He was with a Greek woman and said his
name was Ben. He was about two-and-a-half years old.”
The gynaecologist saw the boy again with a gypsy woman he knew could not
have children. He said: “I was surprised because the child was not a
He said he reported his concerns to police at the time but they were not
interested. He has now reported the incident again and Interpol is
In another lead, it was suggested Ben may be in Germany after a Greek
prisoner serving a sentence for armed robbery got in touch with Ben’s
He claimed the boy had been abducted by a gypsy gang, taken to northern
Greece and then on to Germany. But inquiries came to nothing and the
probe fizzled out.
number of images have been produced through the years showing how Ben
would look at age 10, 13, 18 and now his current age of 21.
The most recent is a computer-generated image which was released in
February in a campaign to rejuvenate efforts to find him.
Since Ben went missing, Kerry, who split from his dad Simon Ward, and
her family have funded their own investigation, visiting Kos dozens of
New hope was raised when Kerry received a call inviting her back for a
personal meeting. She flew out two weeks ago to see Greek investigators
who have promised her they will launch a new search.
Kerry, who has a daughter Leighanna, 18, also told how she recently met
Europe Minister David Lidington, her first meeting with a member of the
British Government since Ben disappeared.
The case is in stark contrast to Gerry and Kate McCann’s who have had
direct support from Prime Ministers Gordon Brown and David Cameron in
their ongoing search for their daughter, who disappeared in Praia da
Luz, Portugal, in 2007.
South Yorkshire Police also travelled to Kos recently for the first time
to see what they can do to help.
Kerry said: “To have South Yorkshire Police in Greece for the first time
working with local police who weren’t around 20 years ago and are new to
the case is wonderful.”
Ben will be 22 on October 29 and Kerry will place a birthday card to him
on the mantelpiece at her home – as she has done every year since his
spokesman for the Kos prosecutor said: “We cannot comment on our current
lines of investigation as they are confidential.”