Son of Greek digger driver: 'My father did not kill Ben Needham'

. Credit: ITV Yorkshire

The son of the digger driver implicated over the death of Ben Needham on Kos says there is "no evidence" his father killed the Sheffield toddler and covered it up.

In his first television interview with Greek media Valantis Barkas also claimed South Yorkshire Police had apologised for the "trouble" his family had been put through after the allegations about his father, Konstantinos, became public.

Credit: Tatiana Live

Ben, who was 21 months old, went missing in July 1991 after being taken to a remote farmhouse on Kos where his grandfather, Eddie, was carrying out renovations.

But it wasn't until last year that detectives were given Konstantinos Barkas's name following a fresh appeal on the Greek island.

It was claimed the digger driver, who died in 2015, had accidentally killed Ben on the day the 21-month-old went missing in July 1991 before burying his body.

The information led to excavations on the island, which failed to uncover a body but led to the discovery of a toy car he was playing with on the day he vanished.

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South Yorkshire Police returned from Kos saying it was their "professional belief" Ben had been killed.

But speaking to Athens-based programme Tatiana Live Valantis Barkas denied his father had anything to do with it.

We wonder who made this story up. He was very careful while working and never ever caused an accident. No one ever blamed him on Ben's case. He was only accused after he died, so he couldn't defend himself. It's so unfair for him and my family. There's no proof and no one believes it.

Valantis Barkas

Mr Barkas said his father believed Ben had been abducted and would never have covered up such a crime.

"I have a child I can understand her pain, my father would never do that, he was an honest man."

He said the family had received threats after his father was connected with the case.

He said: "The police officer in charge of the investigation in Kos came to me and apologised for all the trouble my family went through. I told him he can't just fix all this damage with an apology. I want to help but they shouldn't have given out my dead father's name."

South Yorkshire Police have maintained their position.

Det Insp Jon Cousins, who led the excavation in Kos, said: “Based on those facts and the information I have to date, it is still my professional belief that Ben died as a result of a tragic incident at the farmhouse involving heavy machinery."

Det Insp Jon Cousins Credit: PA

The fact that we did not have a direct result during the most recent visit to Kos, does not preclude the facts that we know to be true. Primacy for the investigation lies with the Greek authorities and South Yorkshire Police remain committed to assisting them in any ongoing enquiries they may have.

Det Insp Jon Cousins, South Yorkshire Police

Grace Melody-Gardner reports: