The mother of missing Sheffield toddler Ben Needham has said she now believes her son will not be found alive after disappearing on the Greek island of Kos 25 years ago.
Kerry Needham told ITV’s Good Morning Britain that she and her family are “tired and distressed” and cannot live for another 25 years without knowing what happened to Ben.
Mrs Needham was speaking as police entered their third week of searches in Kos following new information that Ben, who was 21 months old when he disappeared, may have been accidentally killed by a digger driver.
She said: “I think it really now is a case of finding him not alive.
“We can’t live another 25 years like this, my parents can’t and I can’t. It’s not the best solution but it will eventually lay it to rest for us, we’re all extremely tired and distressed.”
She added: “Twenty-five years living and not knowing where your child is, is torment. I don’t like to say it but then at least we would know and it would be closure and he can be laid to rest and we can remember him as he was.”
Mrs Needham said it was an “agonising wait every day” for news from the police.
She said: “Every time the phone rings you think ‘is this going to be the one with the bad news? It’s stressful, it’s frustrating, it’s painful but we’re trying to stay as strong as we possible can.”
Officers from South Yorkshire Police and Greek volunteers have been working for a fortnight near the farmhouse where Ben was last seen in 1991 and said they would extend their stay after discovering a layer of spoil material that had been deposited at this site within the last 30 years.
The current operation was prompted by information that digger driver Konstantinos Barkas, also known as Dino, may be responsible for the toddler’s death, as he was clearing land with an excavator near where the Sheffield boy was playing on the day he vanished.
Mr Barkas is believed to have died from stomach cancer last year.
Mrs Needham, who has been warned to “prepare for the worst”, thanked the public, the police and the British media for their support.
She said: “We wouldn’t have got this far without South Yorkshire Police. They’ve been fantastic and they’ve tried to do this as painlessly as possible and they’ve tried to find those answers for us and we need those answers good or bad and unfortunately it looks like it’s going to be a bad outcome but we’ll just try to get on with everything.”
On Saturday, Detective Inspector Jon Cousins said he had a long conversation with Mrs Needham to update her on the search and he was encouraged the family was still supportive of the police operation.