KEY witnesses in the Ben Needham case claim a boy found on a Corfu beach may have been the missing toddler – sparking a fresh police probe.
Ben was playing at his grandparents’ farmhouse on the Greek island of Kos when he disappeared on July 24, 1991.
Greek police are now probing claims Ben could be alive, the Mirror reported.
Witnesses say that a blond boy found on a beach 587 miles away in Corfu could’ve been the youngster.
The boy was found wearing a white t-shirt, was speaking English and also “crying desperately”.
He was found by a teenage female kitchen-hand, according to claims.
She turned up to work at a local campsite with the boy and was holding his hand.
She took him to her workplace as she thought his family might be staying there – however she allegedly then kept the child “for herself”, witnesses claimed.
Campaigners who run a Facebook group called ‘Help Find Ben Needham’ were contacted by a witness in 2017, who emailed them to say he had “information about Corfu island”.
He then told the campaigners that he saw a boy who may have been Ben in the early 1990s.
The campaigners gave the information to South Yorkshire Police, but they decided to later contact the witness again who put them in touch with two other people who had seen the same boy.
They then tracked down the woman who found the boy, giving her name and address to Greek cops.
One of the witnesses said: “The woman who worked in the kitchens said she found him on the beach.
“He was very dirty and only wearing a white t-shirt. He was crying and very distressed.
“He was also wearing a nappy. He was between one and two years old.”
Another witness, Dalida Messian, told ITV Calendar: “I can’t get the image out of my head, how distraught he was and snotty, it’s haunted me ever since.”
She was shown a photo of Ben in February and believes he is the same boy she saw at the campsite.
Ben’s mum Kerry revealed she has contacted the woman who found the boy in Corfu over Facebook but her responses have left her “bewildered”.
Kerry said: “Her reply was not a normal reply, she says she doesn’t remember. To me that’s not an answer.
“Four people now remember her finding a child. The fourth was the owner of the campsite but he died two days after we contacted him.”
The Hellenic Ministry of Citizen Protection said they “have received information from the British authorities which we are currently investigating”.
“We will send the results back to our colleagues in Britain when the investigations are completed,” they said.
South Yorkshire Police said: “We continue to hold the view that Ben died as a result of a tragic accident on the day of his disappearance, however should any new viable line of inquiry come to light, we would seek to work with the Greek authorities to support them in their investigations.”
Kerry will this weekend endure the 30th year of heartbreaking anniversaries since her son Ben vanished.
The British mum told the Mirror she is “anxious, depressed and unhappy” as she approaches Saturday – which marks 30 years since she last saw her son.
While Kerry refuses to believe Ben is dead, British police think the then 21-month-old boy was killed by a digger driver in a tragic accident at the farmhouse which Kerry’s parents were renovating,
“I still have that hope that South Yorkshire Police are wrong,” Kerry said.
“And while there is no evidence to show me, I have to believe he is still alive. There’s not a single thread of evidence to say otherwise.
“We need to keep on searching for Ben.”
Kerry admitted she was “struggling” with the milestone, which came after 30 years of heartbreak.
“I feel like I want to scream and sob for myself, for Ben, and for my family. I get teary but I can’t cry. I am scared if I do start crying, I just won’t stop,” she said.
Kerry has a 27-year-old daughter, Leighanna, who she said was “amazing” and granddaughters, Hermione, seven, and Aurora, three.
She spoke of how she had found it hard to move on, having devoted three decades of her life to finding Ben.
A forensic artist has recently created an image of how Ben would look now, 30 years after he vanished on Kos, Greece.
This follows on from an artist impression of Ben that was distributed by police in 2013, revealing how he was expected to have looked as a young man.
Kerry had recently moved to Kos from Sheffield, to start a new life with her family, when the tragedy occurred.
She left him with her grandparents while she went to work, not realising that she would not see him again.
Police efforts to dig the land at the farmhouse failed to uncover remains, though it was reportedly their “professional belief” that Ben died when a digger driver accidentally ran over him.
South Yorkshire Police have twice sent a team of their own to the island, the latest time being after a witness came forward to say that before his death, digger driver Konstantinos “Dino” Barkas confessed to killing Ben.
While Kerry still did not accept the theory, she said things didn’t add up – such as DNA tests carried out on a toy found at the site, which did not match Ben’s.
Covid has, for now, thwarted her plan to return to Kos to make an appeal to the Greek public and meet the witness face-to-face.
Kerry was told that the witness, a business partner of Barkas, had claimed to have seen her son playing on a mound of soil in the morning of his disappearance.
The next day, he claimed Karkas told the witness he feared he may have run the boy over.
“I don’t know why he is claiming he saw Ben there in the morning because my mum didn’t walk up there with him until about 12.45am,” Kerry said.
“If he is wrong about that, what else is he wrong about in his statement?
She was still waiting for the South Yorkshire Police to give her access to the witness statements and their report, she said, to aid her own personal quest to find the truth.