THE agony goes on...
On what would have been his 24th birthday Ben Needham’s family last night had their faint hopes of finding him dashed yet again.
Cypriot police confirmed that DNA testing on samples from a man living in a Roma camp in Cyprus proved conclusively that he is not Kerry Needham‘s son who went missing as a toddler in 1991 from a family holiday on the Greek island of Kos.
A tweet from @FindBenNeedham, the twitter account of the campaign to find the missing man, said: “Needham family just had confirmation test is negative. Disappointing but they remain strong and resolute in search.”
Ben Needham vanished on July 24, 1991, while playing outside the family farmhouse under renovation on the Greek isle.
Kerry has always maintained her son is alive and believes he was probably abducted after Ben was lost following a misunderstanding between family members as to who was looking after him.
That moment has haunted the Needhams and Ben’s father Simon Ward each day since.
Every holidaymaker’s well-meaning report of a blonde boy among dark-skinned siblings, every fresh police inquiry and press investigation will have raised and shattered endless hopes.
But the Sheffield family’s two decades of remorse and regret, replayed a million times since that terrible day goes on now after another false trail.
The man thought to have possibly been Ben is actually 22 years old with light brown hair and blue eyes who reportedly moved to Cyprus with a Roma family a few years ago to avoid mandatory military service in Greece.
Though the chances of the man being Ben were always thought to be slim, mum Kerry, aged 41, was encouraged by the apparent breakthrough in the hunt for her missing son.
“We’ve never given up hope of finding Ben and we are encouraged that the police in Greece are continuing to investigate,” said Kerry on Monday.
South Yorkshire Police released Ben Needham’s DNA to Cypriot authorities at their request.
The picture of the latest potential sighting emerged when an anonymous source submitted evidence, including a video, to Alexandra Moussoura, the District Attorney of Kos.
The video showed a young man aged 20 to 25 with four other Roma men at a church in Limassol, Cyprus.
The claims came from a man called Andonis Bedzios who went to the remote camp in Larissa, central Greece, to search for his own son when he saw a child matching Ben’s description.
He reportedly gave a statement to police, but Ben’s family belive theat police officers did not follow it up.
The account is one of a string of links between the Greek travelling community and 21-month-old Ben’s disappearance.
In May 2012 police excavated land in Kos to look for Ben’s body, although mum Kerry, still believed that her son was alive. That search proved fruitless and Ben’s family are still fighting to make sure his case is properly investigated.
With dozens of supposed sightings, psychic’s advice, police and private investigators’ searches and hopes raised over a 22-year period the pain and heartache of Kerry and the Needhams continues.