Ben Needham, Madeleine McCann but not Charlene Downes: sensation points to alien abduction
YESTERDAY saw the relaunch of the pan-European 116000 missing children hotline at a Downing Street reception hosted by Home Secretary Theresa May. Tomorrow, it’s International Missing Children’s Day. Furthermore, www.missingkids.co.uk, the country’s official website for news on missing children, has been updated. A pre-summer holiday push is going on.
Which leads news hounds to Kate McCann, who was there. Which, in turn, leads to a story in the Daily Express:
‘NEW LIFELINE IN MADELEINE MCCANN HUNT’
There is no new lifeline. This was a relaunch. Kate McCann did not hog the limelight. But the Express sees only one story.
‘Mrs McCann, 44, whose daughter disappeared in Portugal in 2007 aged three, said the missing children hotline phone number – 116000 – was a “lifeline” for families like hers.’
“In the last few years there’s been greater awareness and certainly there’s been a greater political will. We just need to keep spreading the message. It is a big problem and we do need the Government’s backing.”
If there is one missing child the Government backed it is Madeleine McCann, her story having been helped by successive prime ministers. Minds turn to missing Blackpool teenagers Paige Chivers, who is on the Missing People site, and Charlene Downes, the missing Blackpool teen who was not chopped up and made into kebabs. She’s not on the site. Prime Ministers have not helped with either hunt.
Our Maddie is the big story. The Express quotes Martin Houghton-Brown, chief executive of Missing People:
‘Disappearances such as Madeleine McCann’s tragically demonstrated the need for co-ordination across the world when a child goes missing.’
One other child with a rising profile is Ben Needham. He’s the subject of a ‘MISSING CHILD SENSATION’ on the Mirror’s front page, which asks:
‘IS LOST BEN BURIED HERE?’
Can we stop looking for Ben Needham, then? And if the tabloids are going to theorise about missing children being dead, can we stop looking for Madeleine McCann, too? Paige Chivers? And Charlene Downes? Well, we’ve already stopped looking for Downes.
The Mirror’s story begins:
‘Is lost Ben buried under rubble? Police suspect missing toddler died in tragic accident on building site. Investigators suggest Ben, who was aged just 21 months, may have been buried by accident after wandering to the nearby site.’
Suggest. May. Lovely stuff. Ben Needham went missing on the Greek island of Kos. He was 21 months old. He vanished 21 years ago. He’s in the news because a “source” points to a mound and says Ben could be beneath it. The Greeks can’t dig it up, for reasons unspecified. So, they want the British police to lend them 3D scanners “capable of detecting human bones buried beneath rubble”.
The Mirror hears from JCB driver Konstantinos Barkas, ‘who confirmed he was excavating earth for a new property to be built 50 yards away’ at the time the boy vanished. He told the police what he knows, but the Mirror says he’s now ‘speaking for the first time’. Barkas says:
“Yes, I was the man with the JCB that day. Loads of earth were being taken to clear the ground for the new house down the road. Cutting that much ground from the hill was a big job. I think people were misled in thinking the child was abducted. Could there have been an accident? I don’t think so but no one really knows what happened.”
No. He’s not talking about Madeleine McCann, but Ben Needham, whose mother was young, poor, white and from Sheffield:
“The little boy was two years old and the thorns in that field were as high as my waist. I remember I was still there when Kerry’s brother Stephen, Ben’s uncle, came back late in the afternoon and told me the boy was missing. I will never forget that.”
With no facts at all to back up the ‘sensation’, the Mirror reports:
‘The sensational development raises serious questions about whether blue-eyed Ben could have died in such appalling circumstances.’
Yeah, he could have. And Madeleine McCann could have wondered onto a building site, maybe. And so could have Charlene Downes. and Paige Chivers. And all the rest of the missing. Encouraged but its own theoroies, the Mirror adds:
‘As well as the suspicion he was accidentally buried after wandering off, other theories suggested by our sources include him being the victim of a fatal accident before the culprit hid him in a shallow grave knowing it would be further covered by tons of earth.’
The source then pops up to tell us:
“This idea is a lot more plausible than Ben being abducted.”
It is? Unless you believe in alien abduction, in which case, look to the skies.
Having heard the Mirror specualte on a child being dead, Ben’s grandfather, Eddie Needham, says:
“The new mound wasn’t there then. It was rubble and rubbish. But I can’t imagine anyone would accidentally kill a little boy and callously cover up the evidence.”
“Even the police at the time believed he was alive. They told us his body would have been found by a goat herder, or God forbid, by wild animals.”
Such are the facts…