‘New leads’ mark 26th birthday of Ben Needham, missing since 1991

Detectives investigating the disappearance of missing South Yorkshire toddler Ben Needham said last night they were following “new and interesting” leads on his 26th birthday.

Ben Needham, who went missing on a Greek holiday island in 1991

South Yorkshire Police Detective Inspector Jon Cousins said his team of detectives was “working tirelessly” to get answers about Ben’s disappearance from Iraklise, Kos, on July 24, 1991.

Despite hundreds of reported sightings over the years, Ben, who was 21 months old when he disappeared and turned 26 yesterday, has not been found. Mr Cousins said: “It’s Ben’s birthday and he will be 26 which is a milestone for the family and it is another year away from knowing what happened to him since July 1991.

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“We are continuing to work tirelessly with our efforts on the investigation having received the funding back in April.

“During that time we have managed to turn up a number of interesting leader which we are looking into in great detail and trying to progress as best we can to get answers for the family.”

Earlier this year, South Yorkshire Police received £700,000 from the Home Office to fund a dedicated team of officers to focus on the investigation and assist Greek authorities in continuing the search.

The charity Crimestoppers also offered a reward of up to £10,000 to anyone who provides information which leads to the discovery of Ben.

His family have also made an appeal on Greek television along with two South Yorkshire Police detectives, sparking dozens of calls with potential information.

Mr Cousins said members of the team have visited Greece on a number of occasions since the appeal.

He said: “We have been able to work extremely effectively and efficiently thanks to the Greek authorities for allowing us to speak to the people we need to speak to so freely in Greece.

“I believe the answer lies in Greece. What we have to do is go right back to the beginning and ensure that nothing has been missed.

“Everyday is bringing new and interesting possibilities to give us the answer and we will continue to work to get the answer we need.”