Kerry Needham has been warned the body of her missing son Ben could be discovered in fragments. And the distraught mum, 43, is terrified by the thought he suffered a painful death.
Police fear the toddler was crushed by the giant wheels of a digger. As she waited for detectives to dig for Ben, Kerry said her “worst nightmare is coming”.
She added: “They’ve told me they may not be looking for a complete skeleton. I felt sick. This wasn’t happening to me. It wasn’t like it was real life. It was, and still is, an unimaginable horror. The fact that he is dead [would] destroy me, but if it was a painful and horrible death that would crucify me even more.”
Kerry Needham and her mother Christine
Officers from South Yorkshire Police will be joined by a bone expert as they follow up a lead from a new witness following an appeal on Greek television earlier this year.
In a further heartbreaking twist, it has emerged they will be looking for a little silver buckle from Ben ’s brown sandals.
They are the same shoes he was pictured wearing as he posed on his uncle Stephen’s moped, just weeks before he vanished.
Devastated Kerry fears she may not survive the latest sickening turn in the 25-year search for her missing child.
Ben vanished on July 24, 1991, outside a farmhouse on the Greek island of Kos as he was being cared for by his grandparents.
We exclusively revealed how British officers fear he may have been the victim of an accident involving a digger driver who was moving earth nearby.
Kerry said: “They think he could have been crushed under the giant tread of the digger. They say they have found that machine and sat in it. They said it was huge and you can’t see on the ground.”
The new witness claimed Konstantinos “Dino” Barkas told him that he may have had an accident involving Ben.
The Greek national said Dino, who died last April, was digging in one spot and dumping his rubble in another.
Kerry said: “According to the witness he’d seen Ben that day, running around with just a T-shirt on. Apparently he thought to himself, ‘that’s dangerous’ – but he didn’t think to alert the digger driver or my mum and dad?”
Detective inspector Jon Cousins and Detective Superintendent Matt Fenwick
It is believed the witness has shown police two areas of land which were not searched in 2012.
Now, Kerry is bracing herself as police prepare to search new locations for her 21-month-old son.
She said: “My worst feeling as a mother is thinking your child suffered or is suffering. If this is true, I pray it was instant and that he wasn’t buried alive and hurting. Last time I was happy they were doing the dig because we were 100% sure there hadn’t been an accident and we were finally proving to the Greek police he’d been abducted. But this time I think I’ve got to believe it. Something feels different. The police are different. I think he’s dead.”
Breaking down in tears, she added: “Now I’m thinking, if there was an accident was he buried alive? Did he bleed to death? Was he suffering? Was he hurting and calling for his mummy?”
Kerry pauses to fight the waves of nausea she has been feeling since police told her they wanted to dig in Kos again.
She continued: “I have to stop myself thinking. The police said they don’t want me to go through those different scenarios, but how can you not?”
She also fears for how she and her family will cope if little Ben’s body is found.
Kerry said: “My stomach is churning all the time and we have so long to wait. My mother’s instinct has told me Ben is alive and well all these years. How can you rely on mother’s instinct now? This is all I’ve known since being a teenager. My life has been looking for Ben. What do I do now? I feel lost. Will I survive it? All these things are going round and round in my head. What will it do to my mum and dad?”
Recalling the day her son disappeared, she went on: “My last memories of Ben is taking him to my mum’s caravan that morning before I went to work. He was playing inside the caravan. He was being a typical toddler, running around, preferring to go outside to play. He was happy. Ben was very mischievous, always wanted to be the centre of attention and always wanted to make people laugh. But he was a bugger for running off. There was no fear of anything at all.”
Later, her mum Christine took Ben to see his grandfather Eddie at the farmhouse they were renovating. In the middle of the afternoon, Ben vanished as he played outside. Kerry spoke of her terror as the search went on that night.
She said: “I was scared for him and frantic because it was dark. Not knowing what had happened. We thought he was lost and hiding somewhere. The last 25 years is like living a nightmare you can’t wake up from, and a rollercoaster ride you can’t get off. I feel so terrible for my parents. They are blaming themselves anyway. If they see me going insane or self destruct they will blame themselves even more.”
And Kerry fears sinking to the terrifying depths she reached in her early 20s, when she took an overdose.
She said: “I took a handful of anti-depressants, but a friend found me and made me sick. I didn’t want to die, I wanted the pain to stop. I’m always afraid of feeling like that again, so I fix myself by reminding myself how bad my depression was and say, ‘Do you want to put your family through that? They’ve had enough. I’ve not had one peaceful night’s sleep since Ben went missing. It’s the not knowing that kills you inside, day after day after day. I still have hope but is it the hope that kills you?” SOURCE
Ben Needham investigation breakthrough as cops probe witness claims missing tot was killed
Police broke the grim news to Kerry after a friend of digger driver Konstantinos Barkas, known as Dino, came forward to say he believes Dino may have been responsible for the death of the 21-month-old Brit.
“This feels different now. I’m petrified. I think the police believe they will find Ben’s bones. I think he’s dead. They will be bringing specialist people from the UK to search for his remains. They don’t believe Ben’s alive any more.”
Kerry told of the moment officers from “Team Ben” at South Yorkshire Police, led by Detective Superintendent Matt Fenwick, arrived with the news.
Detectives first dug on Kos in 2012.
The mystery witness came forward earlier this year after an appeal on Greek TV.
He told police Dino, who died of stomach cancer last year, may have been responsible for Ben’s death.
It is understood he said it was accidental but officers have not ruled out a more sinister chain of events. The witness has been quizzed several times by South Yorkshire detectives.
Dino had failed to tell detectives he had been working on the two areas of land they now want to search.
Experts have tested soil in the area and drone images have also been taken ahead of the dig.
Dino was clearing entrances in his digger for a new property nearby. Eddie and wife Christine were later eating lunch inside with Michaelis to escape the searing heat.
Stephen, 17, had left the site for the day on his scooter.
Ben had been running in and out but at about 2.30pm Christine realised she hadn’t heard the boy for a few minutes and went to look for him. The search was fruitless and she had to go to the hotel where Ben’s mum had been working to break the news her son was missing. That sparked the beginning of Kerry’s 25-year nightmare, which unfortunately may now be drawing to the most horrific of conclusions.
The new witness described seeing Dino the day after Ben had disappeared. He said the worker was “sweating and shaking”.
The digger driver had just returned from a police station where officers had told him the youngster was missing and asked if there could have been an accident. He told the witness: “I just don’t know, but it’s possible.”
One line of inquiry now is whether Dino knew for sure that he had killed Ben but didn’t want to admit it. And detectives fear there may have been a conspiracy of silence among his friends to protect him.
The Mirror found what is believed to be the digger Dino was driving on the day Ben vanished.
We discovered it in a village just seven miles from the spot. The rusting machine still clearly has the “Barkas” name painted – in Greek – on the side.
Police are investigating whether it is the one that may have been involved in Ben’s tragic disappearance. They know that one is still in operation on the island. Officers have already examined one machine in recent months.
The 952 Liebherr model was manufactured by a Swiss-based firm between 1989 and 1993.
Extracts from SOURCE
But what are the other theories around Ben’s disappearance?
Hypothesis’ over Ben’s disappearance range from serious crime to accidental death, but after all these years no definitive answer has been found.
The day after Ben’s disappearance, builders including Konstantinos Barkas, also known as Dino, claimed they had spotted a white car occupied by three people parking nearby before he vanished.
However, nine years later this car was traced to Xanthippi Agrelli, the family’s translator, who said she was had visited that day, but the family denied this and urged officers to re-investigate.
In 1996, a Greek prisoner named a gypsy family he claimed were holding Ben.
Det Insp Jon Cousins described the family as “significant” to the investigation. He said they had been identified by numerous people over 20 years as being involved with Ben’s disappearance.
However, South Yorkshire detectives finally ruled out any link in 2015.
Another lead came when, in 1997, a taxi driver came forward claiming he had spotted the boy in his taxi with the family, while others also made the same allegations.
In 2012, a previous dig was carried out in the search for Ben’s body on Kos – but found nothing.
Kerry told The Mirror: “The first dig was carried out not because they believed Ben was there. In their mind’s eye it was to prove there hadn’t been an accident and he was a genuine missing person. Once it had been proved there had not been an accident they could then take it forward as a missing person’s inquiry. Now I think they are doing it to prove there was an accident. To prove Ben is dead.”
In 2015, a young man who believed he could be Ben contacted police, but tests revealed he was not him.
Earlier this year, it was claimed that Ben was snatched by a man and then spirited across the ocean in a black speedboat.
The claims were revealed as investigators revisited a mysterious phone call to the British Missing People Charity in 1993, where the caller claimed that Ben was living under the new name ‘Andreas’ and was in mainland Greece being cared for by a man named ‘Nikos.’
Police have also received numerous reports that there have been sightings of Ben across the globe – with sightings reaching as far as Germany and Australia.
Extract from SOURCE
Cops prepare hunt for Ben Needham’s body as witness claims the missing tot was crushed by digger
- Ben Needham prime suspect ‘got angry’ as soon as the youngster’s name was mentioned · 16/09/16
- Ben Needham investigation breakthrough as cops probe witness claims missing tot was killed
- ‘I’m living this nightmare – but it could’ve ended 25 years ago’: Ben Needham’s mother ‘will never forgive’ his killer as it’s claimed he was crushed by digger driver who died
Ben Needham search: Toddler ‘feared dead in digger crush’ 16 September 2016
Missing toddler Ben Needham may have been crushed to death by a digger, campaigners searching for him have been told.
Ben, from Sheffield, was 21 months old when he disappeared on the Greek island of Kos on 24 July 1991.
The official campaign group, headed by his mother, said police were set to excavate two sites on the island.
Police, who suspect Ben died 25 years ago, have told his mother to “prepare for the worst”, the Daily Mirror says.
Ben vanished after travelling to the island with his mother and grandparents who were renovating a run-down farmhouse building in the village of Iraklis.
The dig is to take place close to where Ben was last seen playing near his grandparents’ home.
Det Supt Matt Fenwick, of South Yorkshire Police, said: “There will be planned operational activity at two locations on the island that have been identified as areas of interest to the investigation.
“We continue to keep an open mind and have updated Ben’s family about certain lines of inquiry we’re currently exploring.”
He said an appeal in May, when officers returned to Kos to carry out house-to-house visits and distribute leaflets and posters, had “prompted new information and lines of inquiry”.
- 24 July 1991: Ben Needham vanishes after travelling to the Greek island of Kos with his mother and grandparents, who were renovating a farmhouse in the village of Iraklise.
- September 1991: Ben’s family returns to England due to illness, but Ben’s mother Kerry Needham continues to campaign for her son to be found.
- February 2011: Then-Prime Minister David Cameron responds to Mrs Needham, offering to support South Yorkshire Police and to press the Greek authorities.
- May 2011: BBC airs a programme called “Missing 2011” which includes a segment on Ben.
- September 2011: Greek police on Kos re-open Ben’s case.
- October 2012: A police operation focusing on a mound of earth and rubble close to where Ben was last seen finds no trace of him.
- October 2013: Police say a DNA test carried out on a man in Cyprus proves he is not Ben Needham.
- March/April 2015: Another DNA test on another man in Greece proves negative.
- January 2015: South Yorkshire Police gets £700,000 from the Home Office to continue the investigation.
- March 2016: The force secures a further £450,000 in funding.
- May 2016: A team of 10 South Yorkshire Police officers visits Kos to carry out house-to-house visits.
- September 2016: Police say two locations on the island will be excavated.
- Ben Needham search: Officer recalled to UK after team drinking session 13 May 2016
Ben Needham disappearance: £700,000 to fund police search 6 January 2015