The search for Kerry Needham’s missing son in Greece has come to a halt with some earth-shattering news after South Yorkshire Police carried out a painstaking 21-day operation.1philAn item belonging to missing Ben Needham has been found by detectives searching for clues in Kos. South Yorkshire Police now firmly believe that Ben died in an accident at a farmhouse on the Greek island on July 24, 1991.

At a press conference at midday today, police said that they were in no doubt – after checking with his family – that the item belonged to the 21-month-old little boy who vanished 25 years ago. The item – discovered on Saturday, the penultimate day of the search – is believed to have been in Ben’s possession at the time of his disappearance.

Detective Inspector Jon Cousins said that when he showed the item to Ben’s family “the reaction I got from them leads me to believe it was taken on or around the day he disappeared”. He said that the Needham family were “devastated, distraught, upset… it was a very emotional moment”. DI Cousins added: “In my professional opinion I believe an accident took place involving heavy machinery on the day Ben disappeared.”

Ben’s family are now understood to have accepted that he died on the day he disappeared in a “farming accident”. A Greek digger driver called “Dino” is now widely believed to have taken secrets of Ben’s death to his grave when he died of cancer last year. Detectives are understood to be working on the theory he ran over the toddler by accident while working near the farmhouse and “panicked” – disposing of evidence at the landfill site.