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Widow of digger driver suspected of crushing Ben Needham to death insisted: “My husband did not kill the boy”

Mirror Mirror 18/09/2016 Lucy Thornton

Ben Needham vanished in 1991 © Daily Mirror Ben Needham vanished in 1991 Digger driver Dino Barkas’s wife looked ashen-faced as she broke a 25-year silence about his links to tragic tot Ben Needham.

In her first interview she told the Sunday Mirror that her husband was “a good man” and vehemently rejected any suggestion that he accidentally killed the 21-month-old British boy.

Police acting on new information believe Dino – nickname for his real name Konstantinos – may have hit Ben while driving a powerful digger.

But his widow Varvara told the Sunday Mirror: “My husband was a good man and I know he had nothing to do with Ben’s disappearance.

“He was a very deep man – he kept everything inside him.”

However, Varvara admitted Dino had NOT opened up to her about what happened on July 24, 1991 – the day little Ben vanished on the Greek isle of Kos.

And it emerged she may not have even known her husband was at the scene of the suspected tragedy until four years ago.

As Ben’s mum Kerry braced herself for the worst, Varvara invited the Sunday Mirror into a cafe owned by her son Valandis in the village of Lampi.

She was clearly shaken by the news British police are to launch a new dig for the body of Ben.

Speaking nervously, Varvara said: “My husband never talked about what ­actually happened on that day.

“He never talked to me about what he was doing. It was never discussed.

“He never once spoke to me about Ben. The only thing he ever said was that he saw a car that day. Even when he was dying he never mentioned Ben.”

<span style="color:#3a3a3a;font-family:'PT Sans', Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif;font-size:14px;font-weight:bold;">Kerry Needham is bracing herself for the worst</span> © Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Kerry Needham is bracing herself for the worst Varvara helped nurse her husband as he battled intestinal problems and cirrhosis of the liver. But she said he had nothing to hide and always co-operated with the authorities.

She said: “In the last few years Valandis, our son, was going with him to see the police and prosecutor.

“Even when he was really ill with his intestinal problems – and he had blood transfusions – he was still going to see the police whenever they asked to see him. He always helped the police as much as he could.

“I can’t believe after so many years this is happening again and our family name is being dragged into the gutter. It’s not right. I have lost my husband, now I have to go through all this. He was a very good man.”

Ben vanished while being looked after by his grandparents Ed and Christine, who were renovating a farmhouse in Iraklis. Mum Kerry, of Sheffield, was working at a nearby hotel.

Despite saying her husband had never spoken about Ben, Varvara insisted there was nothing unusual in his behaviour around the time the tot vanished.

She said: “At the time he was coming in the evening and I had his dinner ready. Then he was immediately getting ready for the next day’s work.”

Other sources on the Greek island of Kos said that Dino had kept his involvement in the case secret from his wife.

One said Varvara only discovered he had any possible connection to Ben in 2012 when South Yorkshire Police launch their initial search.

It is clear her husband’s death and speculation over Ben have taken a big toll on Varvara’s health.

<span style="color:#3a3a3a;font-family:'PT Sans', Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif;font-size:14px;font-weight:bold;">Kostantinos Barkas' digger</span> © Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Kostantinos Barkas' digger

“I am not very well and now I’m on a lot of medication,” she said.

Dino died in an Athens hospital in April last year, aged 62.

He was buried within 36 hours in the family tomb in his home village of Zipari.

The Daily Mirror revealed that rather than being a simple digger driver he was a powerful, successful figure in the building trade. One friend said Dino was known by “everyone” on the island.

His son Valandis added: “When the British police came here he went up there to the site to help them.

“He told them they could look as much as they want but they would not find the little boy there.”

<span style="color:#3a3a3a;font-family:'PT Sans', Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif;font-size:14px;font-weight:bold;">Ben Needham has been missing for 25 years</span> © Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Ben Needham has been missing for 25 years

And Valandis even criticised Ben’s grandparents, suggesting they should have alerted police sooner.

He said: “I’ve got a baby daughter. If my child went missing I wouldn’t wait to inform the police for 11 hours.”

Valandis described his dad as an honest and respected man across the island. He said: “Years back some British tourists were taking photos and left a wallet on top of their car.

“There was a lot of money inside. My dad found it and immediately took it to the police station to return it.

“The police said he should take half the money but my dad was an honourable man and refused. He took just 60 cents for the cost of the taxi – that incident sums my dad up.”

Dino’s brother Ioannis Barkas has a butcher’s shop in Zipari and is furious at the latest developments. He said: “The British boy went missing 25 years ago. I don’t understand why this is all coming up again.”

<span style="color:#3a3a3a;font-family:'PT Sans', Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif;font-size:14px;font-weight:bold;">South Yorkshire police search team dig at the farmhouse in Kos</span> © Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc South Yorkshire police search team dig at the farmhouse in Kos

South Yorkshire Police officers will fly to Kos in the coming weeks. They said an appeal in May brought new information which has been “explored and investigated over three months”.

UK police and Greek authorities officers are to dig at two sites close to where Ben was last seen. Det Supt Matt Fenwick said: “Two locations have been identified as areas of interest to the investigation. We continue to keep an open mind and have updated Ben’s family about certain lines of enquiry.”

Tormented mum Kerry said after news of the new digs broke: “Last time I was happy they were doing the dig because we were 100 per cent sure there hadn’t been an accident and we were proving he’d been abducted.

“But this time I think I’ve got to believe it. I think he’s dead.”

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