Ben Needham: Police ready for new excavation on Kos

Ben Needham went missing in Kos in July 1991 Credit: PA

It's an unremarkable patch of scrubland, 50 metres by 70, but over the coming days it will become the focus of an investigation that has spanned 25 years and much of the globe.

South Yorkshire police believe Ben Needham is buried somewhere here, among the handful of olive and fig trees that grow in the dusty soil.

A team of detectives and specialists will start work on Monday morning, scanning and excavating the earth.

A few yards away sits the small farmhouse where Ben was last seen.

This scrubland will become the focus of an investigation that has spanned 25 years Credit: ITV News

The toddler's grandfather was helping to renovate the property in July 1991.

His grandmother brought him to the plot, she let him out of her sight for only a few minutes but when she went to look for him, Ben was gone.

In the 25 years since, there have been dozens of different theories, hundreds of reported sightings of boys matching Ben's description and DNA tests carried out on young men who believed they may have been him, but still the mystery endures.

Police have come back to Kos to explore a new line of inquiry, which suggests the 21-month-old may have died on the day he disappeared, crushed to death by a digger close to the farmhouse and buried in the field behind.

Konstantinos Barkas, a local businessman, was clearing land with an excavator close to where Ben was playing on the day he vanished.

Barkas died last year and a friend has reportedly told police he believes the man took this secret to his grave.

There have hundreds of reported sightings of Ben Needham since he went missing Credit: ITV News

Officers from South Yorkshire police have told Ben's mum, Kerry, they have good reason to believe they'll find his remains here.

She's spent a quarter of a century desperately hoping her son is still alive, but she's been warned to brace herself for the most devastating news.

It's likely to be a painstaking process, sifting through soil on an area not much smaller than a football pitch. The investigating team estimate it could take almost a fortnight.

So Kerry Needham faces an agonising wait. When I met her earlier this month she told me she didn't know what to hope for.

There can be no happy outcome after all, she will either discover that her son is dead, or face the awful prospect of living out her life never knowing what happened to him or where he is.

If this dusty olive grove does hold the key to the Ben Needham mystery, it will unlock a grief that has been building inside his mother for 25 long, lonely years.

More on this story