THE mum of missing Sheffield toddler Ben Needham is praying a dig on the Greek island of Kos fails to unearth her son’s remains.
Kerry Grist, aged 41, of Ecclesfield, is preparing to join the search team on the holiday isle where her son Ben disappeared, aged 21 months, in 1991.
While the experts, armed with specialist equipment including 3D scanners, moved onto the site they plan to excavate over the next 10 days, Kerry said she still hopes her son will eventually turn up alive.
Police began searching a field next to where Ben was last seen, outside the farmhouse his grandparents were renovating.
Ben’s family believe he was abducted, but a British search team has been called on by the Greek Authorities to search the area after it emerged a builder was dumping rubble and soil on the day Ben went missing – sparking fears he could have been accidentally buried.
The mound of earth was never searched at the time of Ben’s disappearance.
Kerry said: “If they find his bones, my life is finished.”
Speaking on Kos, Kerry said that for the first time since her son vanished the search had put ‘horrifying’ doubts in her mind over whether or not her son is still alive.
She said: “I have lived my life convinced I would see Ben again one day. I have been campaigning for 20 years. Searching everywhere.
“And now they are digging up the ground looking for my son’s bones. It has left me traumatised, really shaken.
“I know in my heart of hearts they will not find Ben there, because he is still alive somewhere, but I have to admit this search has put doubts into my head.”
Kerry said she supports the search and hopes it rules out one theory as to what happened to Ben.
She said: “If they find Ben’s body I’m finished. I don’t want to hear they have found my son’s bones. I want to hear he is alive and well.”
A team of 18 search specialists have travelled to Kos to look for the youngster’s remains.
Two dogs, trained to unearth human remains, have also been flown out to help.
The operation is being coordinated by South Yorkshire detective Matt Fenwick, who has visited the island repeatedly during what has become Britain’s longest missing person inquiry.
Kerry said: “Just more than a year ago I visited Kos and spoke to the Greek Prosecutor and the chief of police for the island.
“They promised me they were serious about re-investigating the disappearance of Ben.
“I am pleased the investigation is moving forward and the authorities are showing a commitment to investigate Ben’s disappearance.
“This is just a start. I understand all possibilities have to be considered and the search of the area around the building work where Ben disappeared is part of that.”