Detectives will be travelling back to the Greek island of Kos in the coming weeks to investigate claims missing toddler Ben Needham may have been crushed to death by a digger 25 years ago.
Ben’s mother Kerry has revealed that she has been told to “prepare for the worst” by detectives after a quarter of a century of hope that her son may still be alive.
British investigators on the Greek island where the 21-month-old vanished in July 1991 believe he may have been crushed to death by a digger, Mrs Needham said.
Forensics teams are reportedly set to begin excavating at two sites close to where Ben was last seen as he played near his grandparents’ home on Kos.
The potential breakthrough came after a friend of digger driver Konstantinos Barkas, also known as Dino, said he believes the workman may have been responsible, according to the Daily Mirror.
The driver reportedly died of stomach cancer last year, just months before detectives from South Yorkshire Police arrived on the island for a renewed investigation.
It is understood the friend said the death was accidental, the newspaper reported.
A variety of theories as to Ben’s fate and reported sightings have arisen since his disappearance and Ms Needham had been holding out in hope that she would one day be reunited with her son.
However her worst fears appeared to be confirmed during a recent visit by officers.
She told the newspaper: “What they had to tell me was the last thing they would have ever wanted to. They think my Ben could be dead and buried.
“They are no longer looking for a missing person. How do I cope with that? My mother’s instinct has always told me he was alive. What if I’ve been wrong all this time?”
Ben, from Sheffield, disappeared from outside Ms Needham’s parents’ home on the island on July 24 1991.
Mr Barkas had reportedly been helping to clear land for a local builder, a friend of her father and brother, near the property.
Detectives are said to have carried out initial inquiries at the site, with experts testing soil and surveying the site with drones.
South Yorkshire Police said officers would be travelling back to Kos in the coming weeks “to follow up new lines of inquiry” which have emerged following a direct Greek media appeal in May.
Detective Superintendent Matt Fenwick, leading the investigation, said in a statement yesterday: “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.
“A dedicated policing team continues to work extremely hard to find answers for his family and keep them fully informed and supported throughout the investigation.”