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Thread: Ben Needham

  1. #1

    an6 Ben Needham

    The disappearance of toddler Ben Needham may be investigated by British police for the first time, two decades after he was snatched in Greece.

    Prime Minister David Cameron gave his mother Kerry, 39, fresh hope when he lent support for a new investigation.

    No trace of the 21 month old was ever found after he vanished from Kos on a family holiday in 1991.

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  2. #2

    Default Re: Ben Needham

    Tom Cruise joins hunt for Ben Needham

    Hollywood action hero Tom Cruise has lent his considerable muscle to the hunt for missing Ben Needham.

    Cruise, who has almost two and a half million followers, has now helped spread the story of Ben who disappeared from the Greek island of Kos 20 years ago, around the world.

    And he has been joined by fellow Hollywood actor Tom Arnold and Coronation Street’s Kym Marsh who have added their weight to a renewed effort to find Ben.

    The 24-hour Twitter marathon, ‘tweet 4 Ben’, was run by Scott Morrison from Peterhead, near Aberdeen, who was so moved by the disappearance he set up a website for Ben’s mum Kerry Grist 15 months ago.

    The mega tweet, which aimed to get 10,000 followers on Facebook, caught the attention of Cruise and he has now helped spread the word of Ben’s disappearance.

    Kerry, 39, said at her home in Ecclesfield in Sheffield: “I was shaking my head when I saw what was happening. There was one after
    another after another, people wanting to help find Ben.

    “Among them were these top names, from Hollywood to Coronation Street. There were so many different celebrities. I just couldn’t believe it.

    “The social networking site is an amazing tool. If we had had this 20 year ago who knows what would have happened. There was a message that Tom Cruise had re-tweeted, it was like a different world, it was unreal. It show that people, whoever they are, care and that is amazing for us.”

    The 21-month-old youngster was snatched on the 24 July 1991 as he tot played outside the farmhouse his grandparents were renovating while his mum was at work at a local hotel.

    Since then Kerry and her family have funded their own investigation into Ben’s disappearance, visiting the island dozens of times. There have been hundreds of sightings of Ben but all proved negative.

    The Greek authorities have now officially re-opened case for the first time since Ben’s disappearance and South Yorkshire police have travelled to Kos to liaise with their counterparts.

    Office worker Kerry, who also has an 18-year-old daughter called Leighanna, said: “Ben’s 22nd birthday was three months ago and I think about
    him every day.

    "I have searched for Ben for more than 20 years and I will never give up. I am convinced he is alive and now things are beginning to happen which give me even more hope.

    “The Greek authorities have finally re-opened the case and social networking sites are a marvellous tool to have, The 'tweet 4 Ben' was a great idea and has been a tremendous success in putting Ben’s disappearance back into the spotlight.”

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  3. #3

    updat Re: Ben Needham

    Police to start digging for missing Ben today on Greek Island 21 years after he disappeared

    British police will today start digging up a grassy field to look for the remains of toddler Ben Needham who vanished 21 years ago.
    The work follows claims that Ben may have wandered from his grandparents’ house on the holiday island of Kos and been buried by accident under builder’s rubble.
    A JCB driver said he was dumping earth in an overgrown field next door to the farmhouse on the afternoon that 21-month-old Ben went missing.

    The search of a mound in the field, involving up to 16 experts, scientists and officers, as well as the latest scanning technology – including instruments which detect bones – follows an 18-month review of the case by South Yorkshire Police

    Authorities on Kos have granted a permit for the excavation based on ‘reasonable suspicions’ by British police.
    The cost of the operation – certain to be a substantial five figure sum – will be paid by British taxpayers. Greek search officers will also be involved.

    Ben’s mother Kerry, 40, is on the island awaiting developments, but said yesterday that she does not believe he was buried there. She dismisses claims he died by accident.

    She is supporting the excavation as it will ‘eliminate speculation’ about an accidental death. She said she was pleased it would be going ahead ‘and it’s going to be a thorough and proper investigation’.
    She added: ‘Once they know that Ben is not in the area where he went missing from, then a full worldwide search is going to be done.

    When this search goes ahead it will prove that – and then everybody can concentrate on the real investigation.’
    Police are confident the boy’s remains will be found if he was buried there. Their search will involve expensive sonar ground-scanning equipment not available to the Greek authorities, dogs trained to look for human remains, and a forensic archaeologist from a UK university.

    A South Yorkshire Police spokesman said the operation was expected to last ‘a week to ten days’. It is being carried out at the request of the Greek police who are keen to solve the mystery.
    Ben’s DNA profile was obtained from a hospital blood test taken at birth and will be compared with any remains that may be found.

    Detective Superintendent Matt Fenwick, who is leading the inquiry, said: ‘We want to clear the ground from where Ben originally went missing to, if you like, finalise that as a line of inquiry.’
    Ben vanished in July 1991 when Miss Needham, 19 at the time, left him with her parents Eddie and Christine while she worked at a local hotel.
    The boy’s grandparents had emigrated to Kos and Mr Needham, a builder, was renovating the farmhouse next to the ‘mound’ which is about to be searched by police. Ben wandered off at around 2.30pm.

    Police were not contacted for at least three hours because his grandparents thought he must have gone with Kerry’s brother Stephen, then 17, who left the farmhouse on his moped around the time Ben was last seen.
    Police found no clues to explain what had happened. Over the years there have been hundreds of reported sightings of Ben.

    Images showing what he would look like as he grew up have been released. The latest was issued by the official Ben Needham website and showed what he might have looked like in 2010 aged 21.
    Interest in the mound increased earlier this year when the JCB driver Konstantinos Barkas, 61, told how he had been excavating earth for a new property on the day Ben vanished.
    He said: ‘Loads of earth were being taken to clear the ground. I think people were misled in thinking the child was abducted.

    'Could there have been an accident? The little boy was two years old and the thorns in that field were as high as my waist.’
    His account increased speculation Ben may have been buried by accident or murdered and then buried.
    Locals claim the area was never properly searched by police.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Ben Needham

    'If they find Ben's bones my life will be over:' Agony of mother of British toddler who vanished in Greece as police start search for his body

    The mother of missing British toddler Ben Needham has revealed her 'life would be over' if police find him when they start digging for his remains today.

    The work, which is beginning at 9am this morning, follows claims that Ben may have wandered from his grandparents’ house on the holiday island of Kos, and been buried by accident under builder’s rubble 21 years ago.

    A JCB driver said he was dumping earth in an overgrown field next door to the farmhouse on the afternoon that 21-month-old Ben went missing.
    Yesterday, Kerry Needham, 41, told the Daily Mirror: 'If they find his bones my life is finished'.

    The search of a mound in the field in the village of Iraklise is involving up to 18 British experts, scientists and officers, as well as the latest scanning technology – including instruments which detect bones.

    Twenty five Greek rescuers will also be assisting with the 10-day dig on the plot of land which has now become a crime scene.
    The dig follows an 18-month review of the case by South Yorkshire Police. It is the first time in 21 years that the land has been properly searched.


  5. #5

    Default Re: Ben Needham

    Ben Needham's mum in emotional return to Kos farmhouse where son vanished

    KERRY visited the site on the Greek island where British police are conducting a search for Ben, who went missing in 1991.

    TORMENTED mum Kerry Needham finally returned yesterday to the spot where her toddler son Ben disappeared more than two decades ago.

    Kerry, 40, had feared the return to the farmhouse on the Greek island of Kos would break her.

    But yesterday she wept with relief after conquering her demons to meet and thank the volunteers and police search teams who are working to end the mystery of 21-month-old Ben’s disappearance.

    The specialist search officers downed tools and stood quietly as she made her 30-minute visit.

    And Kerry, who cried and shook as she offered her thanks, left some volunteers in tears.

    She said later: “It broke my heart to go up there. It was painful but I had to beat my demons for the sake of the police.

    “I wanted to thank them for everything they are doing for my family. It was wonderful to see our police from home in uniform with the English word ‘police’ written on their sleeves.

    “I also wanted to say thank you to all the Greek volunteers who had given their time too.

    “When I talked to them, they could not speak English but they patted their hearts with their hand. I was crying all the way through.

    “It crucified me to be there, but it was worth it because it was important to show how utterly grateful I am to everyone for their help in trying to show the world Ben is still out there somewhere and not lying dead underneath a mound.”

    Her mum, Christine, 60, added: “I cried because I was worried about my daughter. As soon as we got there, the tears started.

    “This is what we have prayed and hoped for – to see British police on that ground.”

    Kerry’s dad Eddie, 63, and brother Danny, 33, also visited the scene.

    “I have been up there many times but it is less eerie with so many people there,” Eddie said.

    The family have enormous praise for police from South Yorkshire and the local Greek officers, who have taken the investigation back to basics – carrying out searches which should have been done in 1991 when Ben vanished.

    Greek detectives believe the tot could have been accidentally covered with earth dumped by a JCB digger next to the property where Kerry’s parents were living at the time.

    Police from South Yorkshire, where the Needham family come from, were asked to help in the search by flying in specialist teams.

    Since the search began, experts have used special metal detectors, cadaver dogs, sonar equipment and diggers in their hunt for human bones.

    They have now dug down to the level the soil would have been at in 1991.

    Crucially, they have found the wheels and bonnet of metal Dinky cars Ben was playing with at the time.

    Inspector Colin Hope said: “We are clearing the mound. We have been able to excavate down and we are recovering items like old beer cans which have sell-by dates of 1992.

    “So we are certainly down to the level we need to be at and beyond.

    “We have small parts of what look like tiny, little cars.

    “We have found plastic bits of toys, little bits of dolls, from two metres out from the house to 30 metres. Some of those have been taken down and shown to the Needhams.

    “They don’t recognise them, but that’s to be expected after the time we are looking at.”

    The search is on course to be finished by the end of the week.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Ben Needham

    Ben Needham: Mum of toddler who disappeared 24 years ago makes direct appeal to son

    Kerry Needham has written a message on her website asking for anyone who believes they might be Ben to get in touch, and telling her son that she loves him

    The mother of missing toddler Ben Needham has issued a direct appeal to her son who went missing in Greece more than 20 years ago.

    Kerry Needham, 42, has written a message on her website asking for anyone who believes they might be Ben to get in touch, and telling her son that she loves him.

    Ben, from Sheffield, vanished on July 24, 1991 after travelling to the Greek island of Kos with Mrs Needham and his grandparents.

    Over the years there have been a number of possible sightings and a range of theories about what happened to the youngster, who would now be 25.

    The message, which is also translated into Greek on the Help Find Ben Needham website, reads: "This is a direct appeal to anyone who is around 25-years-old and possibly living with a family who you look nothing like, I beg you to get in contact with me.

    "I promise to cause no problems for your family who you live with, I just want you to know the truth about what happened to you and to know you are healthy and happy.

    "A simple DNA sample can be taken from you without causing any distress to anyone.

    "So if you think you were born in 1989 and you have blue/grey eyes and a possible birthmark on your leg, YOU could be Ben!!!

    "Twenty-three years have gone by Ben and I love you just as much today as I did the day you were born.

    "Please anyone get in touch and end all this pain your family feel living without you."

    Last month, the Home Office agreed to fund a team of British detectives to help search for the youngster after Ben's family engaged human rights barrister Ian Brownhill to help them.

    South Yorkshire Police asked for the financial help to follow up information the family believe has never been properly investigated.

    The funding is for the financial year from April 2015 and is for up to £700,000.

    Ben's family have said they want South Yorkshire Police to investigate leads, including a file they have handed in that lists eight separate sightings from unconnected people of a boy who could potentially be Ben with the same Greek family.

    The Home Office backed a South Yorkshire Police operation in 2012 when land was excavated on Kos, near the farmhouse from where Ben went missing.

    No trace of the boy was found.

    Last year, a DNA test on a young man featured in video footage shot in Cyprus proved negative.

    Grown Up: This is a portrait of how missing Ben might look now, as a grown man in his 20s

  7. #7

    Default Re: Ben Needham

    After a decade of blunders by forces here and abroad a bizarre twist in the search for Ben Needham leads police to Canada

    British man Ben Gleave, 28, was made to undergo a DNA test in Canada
    He believed he was ruled out when he heard nothing back from detectives
    Instead a series of disastrous blunders led to his DNA sample being lost
    South Yorkshire police only began searching for the lost swab last week

    Police in Canada forced a British man to undergo a DNA test because they believed he was missing Ben Needham – only for the crucial sample to disappear for nine years.

    Ben Gleave, 28, who has never before been named publicly in connection with the case, believed he had been ruled out when he heard nothing back from detectives.

    But The Mail on Sunday can reveal that no one contacted him because of a sequence of extraordinary blunders by police here and abroad.

    His DNA swab went missing after the Royal Canadian Mounted Police inexplicably posted it to a private investigator in Wales. It has not been recovered to this day.

    Last night the RCMP declined to say why they had not sent the DNA to British detectives.

    And despite being told about Ben Gleave years ago, South Yorkshire police failed to follow up the lead. In fact, they only began searching for the swab and Mr Gleave last week.

    The ‘new’ lead emerged after police were criticised by Ben’s mother Kerry for spending millions on the Madeleine McCann inquiry ‘when other missing children aren’t getting as much attention’.

    Her plea helped South Yorkshire police secure £700,000 from the Home Office to continue investigating Ben’s disappearance. He was 21 months old when he went missing while on a family holiday on the Greek island of Kos in 1991.

    Emails leaked to this newspaper show police were seeking information about Mr Gleave last week. In one, to private investigator Ian Crosby, a detective asked: ‘Where is it [the DNA sample] now and may we have it so it can be tested against Ben Needham’s DNA? This would comprehensively conclude whether Ben Gleave is Ben Needham.’

    Mr Crosby could not help because the swab disappeared after council officials raided his home during an animal welfare investigation.

    But on Friday, The Mail on Sunday traced Mr Gleave to Co Down, Northern Ireland. He moved there from Canada eight years ago.

    He offered proof he wasn’t Ben Needham and said he was ‘stunned’ to learn his sample had gone missing. Volunteering to take another test, he added: ‘I’ve got nothing to hide.’

    Mr Gleave said he was accused of being Ben by a ‘vindictive’ neighbour. At the time, he lived with his family on Isle Madame, off the southern tip of Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia.

    His birth father’s name was Stockdale but his mother married Canadian Wayne Gleave when he was five.

    The family moved to Canada when Ben was 16 but two years later, in 2006, he was dragged into one of Britain’s most baffling missing child cases.

    Mr Gleave explained: ‘My mum had a friend who she fell out with who took it upon herself to make our family’s life hell. She called the RCMP and told them I might be Ben Needham. It was a malicious thing to do.’

    The RCMP and South Yorkshire Police declined to comment further.

  8. #8

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    Ben Needham's grandfather urges Greek authorities to launch fresh search for missing grandson

    The grandfather of missing Ben Needham has urged the Greek authorities to conduct a fresh search for his grandson.

    Eddie Needham, 68, has appealed for anyone with information to come forward as the family is desperate to get Ben home.

    Ben was 21 months old when he vanished in July 1991 after being taken to a remote farmhouse on the Greek island of Kos where Eddie was carrying out renovations.

    Last year British detectives travelled to Kos to conduct a fresh search for Ben after being given Konstantinos Barkas’s name, following a fresh appeal on Greek TV.

    It was claimed the digger driver, who died in 2015, had accidentally killed Ben on the day the 21-month-old went missing in July 1991 before burying his body.

    e information led to excavations on the island, which failed to uncover a body but led to the discovery of a toy car he was playing with on the day he vanished.

    South Yorkshire Police returned from Kos saying it was their “professional belief” Ben had been killed.

    Eddie said: “I believe the Greek authorities should keep searching for Ben in Kos and get permission from Athens to do that.

    “It is a Greek lead investigation and someone on the island knows what happened. The family is in limbo until we have an answer to where Ben is.”

    But the digger driver’s son went on Greek TV recently to insist again, there is “no evidence” his father killed the toddler and covered it up.

    In his first television interview with Greek media Valantis Barkas also claimed South Yorkshire Police had apologised for the “trouble” his family had been put through after the allegations about his father, Konstantinos, became public.

    Speaking to Athens-based programme Tatiana Live Valantis Barkas denied his father had anything to do with it.

    “We wonder who made this story up. He was very careful while working and never ever caused an accident No one ever blamed him on Ben’s case.

    “He was only accused after he die, so he couldn’t defend himself. It’s so unfair for him and my family. There’s no proof and no one believes it.

    I have a child I can understand her pain, my father would never do that, he was an honest man.”

    He said the family had received threats after his father was connected with the case.

    He said: “The police officer in charge of the investigation in Kos came to me and apologised for all the trouble my family went through.

    “I told him he can’t just fix all this damage with an apology. I want to help but they shouldn’t have given out my dead father’s name.”

    But Detective Inspector Jon Cousins, the Lead Investigator in Operation Ben, said “During the course of our enquiries, we have managed to close off a large number of theories about what happened to Ben, many of which have been open for more than 20 years and get to the facts as to what happened that day.

    “The investigation allowed myself and the team to thoroughly review, analyse and scrutinise each piece of information we were able to gather, and were given access to.

    “Based on those facts and the information I have to date, it is still my professional belief that Ben died as a result of a tragic incident at the farmhouse involving heavy machinery.

    “The fact that we did not have a direct result during the most recent visit to Kos, does not preclude the facts that we know to be true.

    “Primacy for the investigation lies with the Greek authorities and South Yorkshire Police remain committed to assisting them in any ongoing enquiries they may have.”

    Ben’s sister, Leighanna, said the family had ‘no closure’ without physical evidence of Ben’s whereabouts.

    She backed South Yorkshire Police’s theory but said she had sympathy for the digger driver’s family too.

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