Ben Needham: investigators find evidence of ‘decomposition’ in search for missing toddler

Police discover fig tree was planted soon after the toddler disappeared on the property where he vanished in 1991

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The Independent Online

Police investigating the disappearance of toddler Ben Needham on the Greek island of Kos have found an area of “decomposition” in the grounds of the farmhouse where he vanished. 

The investigators are also focusing on a fig tree that is believed to have been planted soon after the 21-month-old toddler disappeared. 

Soil samples taken from the site in 2015 revealed the decomposed remains of a dog and a bat, but the police have returned to investigate an area of decomposition which was deemed “of interest”, and is yet to be identified.

Detective Inspector Jon Cousins said the team are carrying out “groundbreaking” tests on soil samples found close to an underground septic tank.

Speaking to reporters on the fourth day of the renewed search, DI Cousins said: “There were some signs of decomposition.

“One area of decomposition has not been ruled out yet and that is what we are working on.”

He added: “There are nutrients in the soil that are consistent with the decomposition of something. The scientists have been unable to determine what it is.

“It is groundbreaking work. We are able to narrow down the decomposed matter to specific animals.

“One of the samples has been revealed to be canine remains and another is a specific species of bat.”

Police wearing breathing apparatus were seen being lowered into the underground septic tank to collect samples.

The retrieved matter is being sent to a laboratory in Aberdeen for detailed examination.

Detectives have also begun work digging at the base of a fig tree on the property where the toddler was last seen.

A photograph taken 10 days after his disappearance shows the tree, which is now 25ft tall, was not there at the time, The Mirror reports.

“It was taken around 10 to 14 days after his disappearance, when members of the media arrived here on Kos to have a look at the investigation,” DI Cousins said.

“It is the earliest record we have and the closest record of the time Ben disappeared. There is an indication that a tree that is here now clearly wasn’t there at the time.

“That is why we are concentrating our effort around it this morning, to make sure we have covered it.”

The investigation into the toddler’s disappearance was revived after a new witness came forward and alleged he was killed by digger driver Konstantinos Barkas, who working on site at the farmhouse. 

Mr Barkas was interviewed by police at the time of the toddler’s disappearance. He died last year aged 62 and his family has denied any connection with the death of the child.