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Missing Ben Needham: Will detectives find answers in Kos?

If he is still alive, as his mother is convinced he is, then somewhere, a young man who was born Ben Needham will turn 27 later this year.

Ben vanished when he was just 21 months old. The Sheffield toddler was staying with his grandparents while they were doing up an old farmhouse on the Greek island of Kos. His mother Kerry was working at a local hotel.

Ben Needham was playing outside a farmhouse when he went missing

And so since that day in 1991 the people who loved that little boy have suffered terribly. And not just as a result of the searing pain caused by his disappearance. The campaign to find Ben led by his mum and his grandfather and grandmother has given them many false dawns, where hopes of an end to their agony have been raised and dashed.

Kerry Needham, Ben's mother, believes her son is still alive

There was the theory that he had been abducted by a family of travellers, and spent his childhood with them. Then there was a prison inmate on the Greek mainland who claimed to know who was holding Ben. Neither of these ‘leads’ produced a positive sighting, and British Police have now ruled them out.

In 2012 a patch of land near the farmhouse was searched with ground penetrating radar and excavated, on the basis that Ben might have fallen down a hole on a construction site. But no trace of the child was found.

Kerry Needham a year after her son's disappearance

South Yorkshire Police have been given more than a million pounds to spend on trying to solve the mystery. A group of its officers has arrived in Kos to try to bring some new impetus to an old case. They will start with a fresh appeal for information from local people on the island. Then they are going to set about re-interviewing as many of the witnesses who gave statements in 1991 as they can find.

After a search which has stretched across the world and almost three decades, the detectives from Sheffield are convinced: the answer, if there is one, lies on Kos.

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