Sheffield & South Yorkshire

Ben Needham search: Grandfather visits Kos search site

Eddie Needham (left) and Det Insp Jon Cousins (left)
Image caption Mr Needham (left) was given a tour of the site by Det Insp Jon Cousins (right)

The grandfather of missing toddler Ben Needham has visited the site police are searching on the Greek Island of Kos.

Eddie Needham was renovating a property on the island when the 21-month-old, from Sheffield, went missing in 1991.

South Yorkshire Police hoped he would be able to explain how the site looked at the time Ben vanished.

Police are investigating whether the toddler was accidentally killed rather than abducted.

Mr Needham spent around two hours touring the site with officers.

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Det Insp Jon Cousins, who is leading the investigation, said: "I want the experts who are here to have a good understanding of his [Mr Needham's] recollections around the day and the days after Ben's disappearance."

Mr Needham said in a statement he was grateful for everything being done and thanked the volunteers and police for their efforts.

"They are working tirelessly in difficult conditions and I am aware many have taken time away from their families to help our family," it said.

"It shows how much people care and how compassionate they are."

Image copyright Needham family
Image caption Ben Needham vanished on the Greek island of Kos in July 1991 when he was 21 months old

Image caption After Mr Needham's visit, police began removing a tree they believe was not present in 1991

Tom Ingall, BBC Correspondent in Kos

Mr Needham was one of the last people to have seen Ben before he vanished 25-years-ago.

He is the first member of the Needham family to visit the site during this phase of the search for Ben.

He was shown the work being done in the olive grove and was also taken to see the team of volunteers who are raking through mounds of soil removed from the site.

As a direct result of his visit, police have removed a tree that had grown near the farmhouse which was not there when Ben disappeared in 1991.

The search was always intended to take around 12 days to complete and police tell me they are on target.

Image caption Experts are sifting through the rubble of an extension built since Ben's disappearance

Det Insp Cousins said the site was now in the state he believed it to have been at the time Ben went missing.

"What we see now is what was there at that time," he said.

It follows the demolition of an extension to a farmhouse which had been built since Ben's disappearance.

A team of 19 South Yorkshire Police officers, forensic specialists and an archaeologist are excavating the site.

The search, now in its tenth day, was prompted by information given to police following a television appeal in May.

A friend of a digger driver, who had been clearing land with an excavator on the day the toddler went missing, told police the man may have been responsible for Ben's death.

The driver, Konstantinos Barkas, died of cancer in 2015.

Image caption The search is expected to last for up to 12 days

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