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Renewed hope for family of toddler who went missing 24 years ago

Crime WorldBy Sunday World
Ben Needham
Ben Needham

Police are scouring a wealth of potential new leads in the case of a toddler who vanished 24 years ago while on holiday in Greece.

Police are scouring a wealth of potential new leads in the case of a toddler who vanished 24 years ago while on holiday in Greece.

South Yorkshire Police said "a number of calls" were received after an appeal on Greek television last night.

Detectives are now poring over the new details, including potential sightings of missing Ben Needham, "and will be looked at in detail".

Ben, from Sheffield, vanished on July 24 1991 after travelling to the island of Kos with his mother Kerry Needham and his grandparents.

Over the years there have been a number of possible sightings and a range of theories about what happened to the youngster, who would now be 25.

Mrs Needham and Ben's grandmother Christine Needham took part in the three-hour TV show on Friday along with his sister Leighanna.

Speaking on the show last night, Ben's mother said: "Please end the pain that my family is suffering. I know he's out there somewhere.

"Please call the police and please put an end to this."

The show, the English translation of which is Light At The End Of The Tunnel, broadcasts to around 50% of the Greek TV audience and is about missing people, a police spokesman said.

In January, South Yorkshire Police were granted £700,000 of Home Office funding to support the Greek authorities in continuing inquiries to find Ben.

The force asked for the financial help to follow up information the family believes has never been properly investigated.

The Home Office backed a South Yorkshire Police operation in 2012 when land was excavated on Kos, near the farmhouse from where Ben went missing. No trace of him was found.

Last year, a DNA test on a young man featured in video footage shot in Cyprus proved negative.

Mrs Needham posted on her fundraising site: "As part of the launch of operation Ben I have arrived in Athens this morning with my family and detectives from South Yorkshire Police.

"During our five days here we will be meeting the British ambassador for the first time in 23 years to discuss Ben's case.

"Myself and family along with British detectives will be appearing on the Greek missing programme Nikolouli as well as holding a press conference with all Greek media as well as any British media who would like to attend.

"We sincerely hope this will lead to more people coming forward with new information and will help the British and Greek police investigate into the whereabouts of Ben.

Once again we would like to thank you all for your continued support."

Reports in Greece said one television viewer contacted police to state he resembled a computer-generated image of the missing Briton as he may look 24 years on.

South Yorkshire Police were unable to confirm the line of inquiry today.

In a statement, a police spokesman said: "Much of the information coming into the show was broadcast in some way. Some got more coverage than others.

"We have obtained all the information from the show and over the coming weeks we will assess that information and progress any lines of inquiry as deemed appropriate."