By Peter Stevenson
The results of a DNA test carried out on a 21-year-old Romanian man prove he is not Ben Needham, who was abducted as a toddler on the Greek island of Kos in 1991, police said Tuesday.
The 21-year-old Romanian man went to a Limassol police station at around 4pm on Monday and volunteered to give his DNA to authorities following reports in the Greek press suggesting he was Ben. A DNA sample and a number of photographs were taken and sent to the Cyprus Institute of Neurology and Genetics for testing. The young man told police in a written statement that he has been living in Limassol since January of this year and has Romanian parents.
South Yorkshire Police announced on Tuesday that they had released the DNA of Ben Needham to the Cypriot authorities at their request so a comparison could be made.
“At the request of the family, we would ask that today, Tuesday 29 October, which is Ben’s 24th birthday, respect is given to them and they can have the opportunity to spend the day together and in private without any media approaches,” a South Yorkshire police statement said.
It is not the first lead that the Needham’s have investigated, their campaign manager told the Cyprus Mail.
“As you can imagine, we receive many leads, some of which have been similar to the story in Cyprus,” he said.
“The Needham family have been through so many leads like this over the years, they have learned to just wait and see the results of any DNA testing before getting excited,” he concluded.
The tragic story is told best by reporter Melanie McFadyean who has followed the story since the early nineties.
“Chris and Eddie Needham and their sons Stephen, aged 17, and Danny, 11, had gone to Kos, abandoning their native Sheffield, for a future in the sun, and were living in a caravan in a place called, ironically, Paradisi,” she wrote in the Observer.
“Eddie, a builder, found work renovating an old farmhouse on a remote hillside track above Kos town. Stephen was helping him. Kerry (Ben’s mom), then 19, and Ben, aged 18 months, joined them a few months later,” she added.
On Kos she got a job at a hotel serving at the bar and round the pool, and she had a flat of her own.
On 24 July 1991, Eddie, Chris, Ben, Stephen and Danny were at the farmhouse having lunch. Kerry was at work. Ben was running in and out, playing with water, amusing them.
“After lunch Stephen went outside and got on his 50cc motorbike to leave. Ben wanted a ride. “No,” Stephen said, “go back inside.” Stephen drove off. He was the last to see Ben,” she wrote.
A few minutes later Chris realised Ben had gone silent. They looked everywhere – up and down the track, across the fields. Nothing, no sign of him. He had vanished.