DNA test result blow for family of missing Ben

The family of missing Ben Needham say they remain “strong and resolute” as they continue their search for him after a DNA test on a young man in Cyprus proved negative.

Ben Needham

Ben’s mother, Kerry Needham, and her family spent Ben’s 24th birthday yesterday waiting for results of tests on the man who was featured in video footage shot in Cyprus that emerged this week.

But a post on the official Help Find Ben Needham Facebook page confirmed the DNA comparison analysis had not found a match.

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The post said: “The Needham family have, in the last few minutes... had confirmation that the DNA results on the man in Cyprus have came back as negative.

“This, again, is more disappointment for Kerry and her family. However, they remain strong and resolute in their search for Ben, and there are other leads currently being looked into which keeps their hopes alive.”

Ben vanished on July 24, 1991 after travelling to Kos with his mother and grandparents, Eddie and Christine, who were renovating a farmhouse in the village of Iraklise.

The man who handed himself in to authorities in Cyprus this week has facial similarities with reconstructions of how Ben may now look, the family said.

He came forward after a video emerged of him at a church in Limassol, on the island.

A statement posted on the family’s Facebook page earlier in the day said: “I have just heard from Greece that the young man in the video has handed himself in to Greek authorities.

“He claims he is Romanian and was working in Limassol. The gypsies who were in his company are his girlfriend’s family as she is Roma. He has willingly given DNA, so we are waiting on a result.”

A spokeswoman for South Yorkshire Police said: “South Yorkshire Police have released the DNA of Ben Needham to the Cypriot authorities at their request.

“The case of Ben Needham continues to be investigated by the Greek authorities and South Yorkshire Police continues to support his family.”

She said the family wanted to be left alone yesterday, as they marked Ben’s birthday.

Prior to the results coming back, ITV reported yesterday that early signs from Cyprus had suggested a match was unlikely. Greek police sent photos of birthmarks Ben had on his body to the authorities in Cyprus and the man who was tested does not have at least one of them, it was claimed.

At the time of Ben’s disappearance he had a coffee coloured mark on his right knee and a red birthmark on the back of his neck, but ITV reported that there was no sign of a mark on the neck of the man at the centre of yesterday’s investigation.

Over the years there have been a number of possible sightings and a range of theories about what may have happened to Ben.

Last year a major new police operation focused on a mound of earth and rubble close to where Ben was last seen amid speculation builders working in the area at the time the youngster went missing could have unwittingly buried him, but no trace was found.

Earlier this month a four-year-old blonde girl, known only as Maria, was discovered living with Greek Roma gipsies.

She was found with a couple, who DNA tests revealed were not her parents, and 13 other children at a Roma community near Farsala. DNA tests have since confirmed she is the daughter of a Bulgarian Roma couple.

Following the discovery members of Ben’s family said they hoped it may give some credence to their belief gipsies may hold vital clues to his disappearance, but South Yorkshire Police warned there appeared to be no link between Maria and Ben’s disappearance.

A similar case in Ireland, which saw authorities temporarily remove two young children from their families, led to accusations of “racial profiling” a government apology and the launch of an official review.