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Wednesday 27th May 2020

Ben Needham's sister is not ready to accept he is dead

A toy thought to be his is not conclusive proof, she says

Ben Needham's sister revealed that she still has hope that her brother is alive.

The tot went missing when he was just 21 months old, on July 24, 1991, while his grandparents were looking after him on the Greek island of Kos.

Leigh-Anna Needham told Good Morning Britain hosts that although detectives found an item in the dirt that is thought to be her brother's, she will never give up hope.

Ben Needham

She said: "Without definitive proof or without any form of remains then I will always remain hopeful that he is still out there.

"I don't think my grandparents can take much more of this. It's absolutely destroyed the family.

"I still remain hopeful that he is out there. The toy car has been shown to my mum and grandparents.

"My mum obviously broke down, they do vaguely remember the toy car but what I can't stress enough is my nan is only 90% sure that it is one that is similar to the one Ben had.

"We can't say for definite that it is Ben's toy car.

"Over three weeks where the dig has been happening they have come across a number of toys. It could be Ben's, it could also not be Ben's.

"It is similar but we can't be 100% sure.

"Wherever there is hope there is still a fight and I'm prepared to fight tooth and nail until I get to the bottom of this."

Leigh-Anna Needham giving an emotional interview to GMB's Piers Morgan and Susanna Reid

On the verge of tears, Leigh-Anna added: "I'm sort of half angry that they didn't find anything because we were told to prepare for the worst.

"We believed at the time that the worst was going to be that we were going to find him and we were going to bring him back and we were going to have to deal with the grieving process then.

"I suppose that we could get to terms with what happened and we could try to move out with our lives.

"We have been stuck in limbo for 25 years, my mum, my grandparents have been stuck in this for 25 years.

"I don't think my grandparents can take much more of this. It's absolutely destroyed my family and now I am even more determined to find out what happened on that day."

She continued: "The options we were given was that we could all go the farmhouse as a family and say goodbye and that's not something I can do, and with speaking to a lot of the family that's not something we can do, because there's no proof that he's there.

"Like I said, when there is hope there is still a fight and no matter how many times I have to be stabbed in the heart again, because every time something like this happens that's what it feels like.

when he was last seen

A toy car similar to the one Ben was playing with when he vanished

"I've got a pretty big heart and I can take a few more because I want to find out what happened for my mum and the rest of the family."

Although Leigh-Anna believes Ben could still be out there, her mum Kerry is on the verge of giving up hope.

She said: "“They know he’s dead but just can’t find him. Police said it’s time we ended our 25-year search. They are right but I can’t say goodbye knowing he’s still on that island somewhere. I feel physically sick. I can’t feel any worse than I do.

Kerry Needham

“He didn’t leave Kos, he didn’t walk away… Somebody didn’t take him, so he’s here somewhere. They believe he is there but they can’t dig in everyone’s gardens or homes that have been built over the years. I want to tear up the whole island to find him.

“Someone knows where he is. For God’s sake, help me find him. We know he’s dead but we need to find him. When someone dies you find a special place.”

Detectives from the South Yorkshire force formally ended a three-week search, and at a press conference on they revealed they had discovered an item thought to have been with the toddler at the time.

The search operation was prompted by information that a digger driver may have been responsible for the Sheffield boy’s death, as he was clearing land with an excavator near where Ben was playing on the day he vanished.

Despite this stage of the investigation coming to an end, the officer pledged to continue searching for answers, and paid tribute to Ben’s family.

He concluded: “We remain committed to the investigation and it will not simply close; myself and Detective Superintendent Matt Fenwick will retain ownership of it and if new information comes to light, we will investigate it thoroughly.

“We will not stop in our quest to find further answers for Ben’s family.”