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The BBC's Alastair Leithead
"South Yorkshire police have never closed the file"
 real 28k

Sunday, 23 July, 2000, 07:44 GMT 08:44 UK
Internet appeal for British lost boy
Ben aged two and the computer-generated image
Holidaymakers are urged to take this picture with them
The latest computer technology has been used to create a picture of how missing toddler Ben Needham could look nine years after he disappeared on a Greek holiday island.

The image has been produced using an American technique adopted for the first time by UK police forces to help trace a missing person.

We are hoping this image might just throw up new information

Jim Greensmith, South Yorkshire Police spokesman

Ben, who was born in Sheffield, was just 21 months old when he vanished from the Greek island of Kos on 24 July, 1991, while he was with his family.

He has not been seen since, despite appeals by his family and the British authorities over the years.

Police are now urging British holidaymakers travelling to Greece this summer to download the picture and take it with them.

'Facial progression'

The image has been posted on the UK Missing and Exploited Children website, set up by police forces around the country and computer company Computer Associates.

The computer-generated portrait shows Ben as a boy of 10, with blue eyes and blond straight hair.

South Yorkshire Police spokesman Jim Greensmith said the picture was created using "facial progression", based on what Ben looked like on the last known photograph of him as a child and on family resemblances.

"What we would ask is that British holidaymakers who are planning to go to Greece this summer visit the website and look at the picture of Ben," he said.

"If possible they should download a picture, print it out and take it with them just in case they make a sighting which may help the investigation."

Theories

Theories have included Ben having been killed, abducted by gypsies or sold on to a family who could not have a child, but police have never closed the file.

"Although there have been hundreds of possible sightings and certainly in the first of couple of years of his disappearance, none have ever led anywhere close to him," said Mr Greensmith.

"We are hoping this image might just throw up new information which will help our inquiry."

The website can be found at www.missingkids.co.uk

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