A photo showing what the missing Ben Needham would look like at age 30 was released today – as his mother revealed she didn’t believe the police theory that he was killed by a backhoe on a Greek island.
The surprising image three decades after Ben was born was created by National Crime Agency forensic artist Tim Widden.
It came when his mother Kerry said ‘we must keep looking’ ahead of the 30th anniversary of his disappearance on the island of Kos on July 24, 1991.
Police believe Ben died the day he went missing as a result of a ‘heavy machine’ accident while playing outside his grandparents’ house.
He was staying at his grandparents’ farm on the Greek island when he disappeared, but Mrs. Needham believes her son is still alive.
She told the Daily Mirror: ‘I still have hopes that the South Yorkshire police are wrong.
Ben Needham Ben may look 31 years old, in an age-progressive facial expression created by National Crime Agency forensic artist Tim Widden
Ben Needham (pictured) disappeared from his grandparents’ farm on Koss in 1991
“And while there’s no evidence to show me, I have to believe he’s still alive. There is not a single thread of evidence to say otherwise.’
She added that she is “stuck” in 1991 and has devoted three decades to the search for her son. She said, “I never had any dreams or goals, except to find Ben.”
Mrs Needham had moved from Sheffield to start a new life with her family in Greece when she went to work and left her son with his grandparents. She never saw him again.
South Yorkshire Police twice sent a team to Kos, the last time after a witness came forward to say that, before his death, excavator driver Konstantinos ‘Dino’ Barkas confessed to killing Ben.
Forensic scientists said that in 2018, chemical traces indicating the presence of decomposing human blood were found on a toy car and sandal they believe belonged to Ben.
Police dig the farm land and found no remains, and tests on a toy car and a piece of leather sandal found no DNA match to Ben.
This was why Ms Needham questioned the graph theory, adding that ‘things don’t add up’.
South Yorkshire Police detectives conducted a three-week search for Kos in 2016.
Then Detective Inspector Jon Cousins then said, “My team and I know that machinery, including a large backhoe, was used to clear a tract of land on July 24, 1991, behind the farm being renovated by the Needhams.
“It is my professional belief that Ben Needham died as a result of an accident near the farm in Iraklis where he was last seen playing.
Mother Kerry Needham (pictured) believed the body had been exhumed and moved a second time before officers returned to search the site in 2016
“The events before and after that incident have been extensively investigated by my team of experts. The fact that we did not have an immediate result during this visit to Kos does not exclude the facts that we know to be true.’
He said the investigation would not be closed and new information would be looked at, adding: “We will not stop in our search for further answers for Ben’s family.”
Mrs. Needham wants to go to Kos to meet a witness, a business associate of Barkas, who said he saw Ben playing on a knoll the morning of his disappearance while the adults were inside.
He said that Barkas had told him he was afraid he had run over the boy.
In September 2018, Ms Needham was told by forensic experts in Oxford that they had found a weak DNA profile of decomposed blood in the car near where Ben went missing.
Police formally ended a search on the Greek island in October 2016, saying they believe Ben died as a result of an excavator accident on July 24, 1991.
Ms Needham wiped away tears as she spoke about her efforts to stay strong during the 2016 police search
She gave a DNA sample, but was told there was no positive match.
At the time, Mrs. Needham said, ‘If that blood isn’t Ben’s, then whose is it? It’s devastating. We had built ourselves up thinking that it would be a positive outcome and prove that Ben had died.
“It would have given us closure and we could have started the grieving process.
“When it came back negative, it was a shock. I don’t know what to think now. Is Ben dead or alive?’
She added: “I’m angry and I can’t stop shaking my head.
“Some people on Kos have been lying for 27 years and we’ve been tortured for years, slow torture.”
The toy car was found in 2016 by an elderly witness who told British police that Barkasin was behind Ben’s death.
Police believe Ben was crushed in a tragic accident near the farm where he was last seen in 1991 and where the sandal was found in 2012.
Barkas died of stomach cancer, but apparently confessed on his deathbed.
The witness claimed that Barkas told him he thought he killed the toddler.
Barkas is said to have said, “I thought I heard a cry, but I thought it could be a dog.”
The toy car believed to belong to Ben was found in a second landfill where the witness led them.
Barkas’ family denied involvement in Ben’s disappearance. It is believed that the witness has now stopped helping the police.