Kerry says that in the vital hours after Ben’s disappearance, just
a handful of blundering officers arrived to look for him
My boy: Mum Kerry with a photo of missing
Mum Kerry is still seething about the bungled Greek police hunt for
her missing son Ben Needham.
Kerry says that in the vital hours after Ben’s disappearance was
reported at night, just a handful of blundering officers
arrived to look for him in the Kos countryside.
She says: “None of them even had torches.”
Fields surrounding the house where he was last seen were not
sealed. And evidence may have been missed that could
have revealed where Ben was.
Kerry, who says police blamed her family for the disappearance 21
years ago, had just finished work at around 9.50pm when
her mum appeared with two police officers.
“She was hysterical,” says Kerry. “At first I thought there had
been a car accident because there were some lunatic
“But she was saying, ‘I can’t find Ben’. She could hardly get the
words out. I didn’t understand what she was saying. How
could they not find Ben? It was wide open space.”
Kerry, from Sheffield, clings doggedly to the hope that her son is
still alive – but also says she will not block a police
dig in Kos.
Despite enduring nearly 21 years of fake sightings, she insists she
will continue scouring the world for Ben unless someone
proves he is dead.
Speaking to the Daily Mirror after being told about the latest
investigation, Kerry, 40, says: “If the police want to
dig up this mound it’s up to them, but I think it would
be a waste of time and money. I don’t want to think
“I think it’s impossible that he was buried there. The searches
that my mum and dad did of the area convince me he’s not
"To my mind that part of the investigation, searching around the
house, was the only part that was properly done.”
Kerry’s belief that Ben is still alive hardly wavers.
Return: Kerry in Kos in 1994 Andy
But brief uncertainty creeps across her face when her dad, Eddie,
points out that the mound was not properly excavated in
1991. Asked how she would react if Ben was dead, she
replies: “I would end my pain and suffering, which goes
on day after day after day.
“If there is a chance he isn’t alive I’d give up. I would go
through the grieving process and eventually I’d move on,
I’d get on with my life.
“But I don’t believe he’s dead. That’s my mother’s instinct. Ben is
Kerry has suffered hundreds of false alarms and been plagued by
psychics. She also attempted suicide twice since the
disappearance of her gorgeous boy on the Greek island.
“Losing a child sends you to the brink of insanity,” she says. “I
have been there many times.
“You’re trying to come to terms with something that only happens in
films and nightmares.”
Today, for the first time since Ben went missing, Kerry now has
real hope that police in South Yorkshire and Greece will
solve the case.
Kerry, who has an 18-year-old daughter called Leigh-Anna, is
confident that there will be a thorough examination of
all the leads.
Unlike the first shambolic investigation, both forces are combining
their efforts and expertise.
“I really feel something is going to happen,” Kerry says, a flicker
of optimism in her eyes. “Things are happening. Really
“The Greek police and the public no longer see me as this young
"Now times have changed, even in Greece, and they can see I’m a
40-year-old woman who runs her own business and has
never given up looking for her son.
“When I last went over there, the public prosecutor told me, ‘With
my heart I want to find your son’ and I believe them. It
has been a massive sense of relief after all these
“When I went there last year I walked out for the first time
thinking, ‘I really believe them’. That has never
happened before. South Yorkshire police have been
“Having them there at the end of a phone has changed my life.”
Missing: Ben Needham as a toddler
Reliving July 24, 1991 when Ben vanished, Kerry, who was 19 at the
time, recalls: “That morning I walked Ben from my
apartment to my mum and dad’s caravan.
“It was a 15-minute walk but Ben made it more like 25. He wanted to
take his tractor bike and I was pulling him along with
the string. I said, ‘Come on we’ve got to get to
“When we got there I was late for work but I stayed while he had
his breakfast. Then I set off for work.”
Kerry’s recollection is that Eddie and her brother Stephen, then
17, set off in a Land Rover to start work at their Greek
Her little brother Danny, then aged 11, their mum Christine, Ben
and the family’s dog joined the men shortly afterwards.
The walk there up a dirt track from the coastal resort of Psalidi
would have taken at least 30 minutes.
Eddie and Christine told Kerry that in the early afternoon, after
running out of materials, the workers downed tools and
They say Ben was playing with his toy cars in the mud and splashing
around in water.
The family’s account is that at around 2.30pm Stephen got on his
They say this was when Ben went quiet, and for several hours they
thought Stephen had taken the toddler with him on the
“My mum thought, ‘How stupid, I’m going to kill Stephen when I see
him’,” says Kerry. “But there was no panic at that
When the family caught up with Stephen at Kerry’s flat there was no
sign of Ben and the dreadful truth emerged.
This explains the three-hour lapse before he was reported missing
and, Kerry says, is the reason “police blamed us”.
Impression: How missing Ben could look as an
Of the family hunt for Ben, she says: “We searched the outbuildings
and carried on searching for days. None of us can
remember eating or sleeping.
"The police later questioned Stephen because his indicator cap on
his moped was broken and he thought they were suggesting
he may have had an accident and buried Ben in a shallow
“But I never doubted him for a second. It destroyed Mum. She felt
so guilty because she was taking care of Ben when he
“She went from nine-and-a-half stone to six stone in just a month.”
Ben’s disappearance was echoed 16 years later when four-year-old
Madeleine McCann vanished in Praia da Luz, Portugal. But
the similarity ends there.
Kerry says every time she has written to a Prime Minister begging
for help, she has been rejected.
She says most recently she was “hurt” by Tory leader David Cameron,
who has declared his support and provided funds for Kate
and Gerry McCann’s search for their missing daughter.
Scotland Yard detectives are now reviewing the case, armed with 28
officers and seven civilian workers.
They say they believe there is a chance Madeleine is still alive.
Kerry says: “I thought, ‘What about me?’ When I asked for help I
got nothing. I wrote to David Cameron begging him to
help and the letter I got back was cold.
"I have never thrown anything away but his reply went straight in
“David Cameron made me feel like I’m not good enough,” adds Kerry,
who runs a fencing supply company. “It’s devastating
after I’ve battled so hard.”
Kerry split with Ben’s dad Simon Ward after their son’s
Scene: Mirror reporter at the house where
Their second child, Leigh-Anna, was born after Kerry returned to
Sheffield in 1991.
Kerry, who went on to marry but is now separated from her husband,
has thrown herself into the family business.
She works six days a week in a male-dominated profession and is
shattered at the end of her shifts.
But the energy she devotes to finding her son is undiminished.
“I get through the bad days with the knowledge that he is out there
somewhere,” she says.
“I believe the answers are on Kos. Someone there knows what
happened to Ben.
“I still live with it every day. I’m constantly questioning every
move. We all sit down as a family and go over
“I have had dreams of me finding Ben and running and running and
running with him.
"Then I wake up and realise it was a dream – that’s when the hurt
really hits again. I have even sleepwalked and
tucked him into bed.
“I decorated a bedroom for him once and used to wake up and hear
him crying in there.
"The trauma plays with your mind. I wish those tears were real.”