An excavation in the case of missing Sheffield toddler Ben Needham has come to an end, South Yorkshire Police announced in a statement on Sunday.

Needham disappeared in Kos aged just 21 months in 1991 from a farmhouse being renovated by his grandfather, and has body has never been found.

After new information indicated that Needham could have been accidentally killed by a digger driver, more than 800 tonnes of soil was dug up in an excavation that lasted 21 days.

Detective Inspector John Cousins of South Yorkshire police, who is leading the investigation, said: "I've got the confidence that we have done exactly what we can, given the plans we had before we came out here so that I can give an answer, whatever that might be, to Ben's family."

The dig was conducted by a team of 19 South Yorkshire Police officers alongside forensic specialists, an archaeologist, and Hellenic search and rescue personnel, who were pursuing a new theory focusing on a man named Konstantinos Barkas, who died of cancer in 2015.

Information about Barkas leading to the development of the theory was brought to the attention of the force following an appeal in May this year.

As part of that appeal, a reward of £10,000 (€11,110) was offered by charity Crimestoppers to Greek residents who could provide information that would lead to a discovery if the child's whereabouts. Special dispensation was obtained in order to offer the reward.

Speaking on ITV's Good Morning Britain earlier this month, the toddler's mother Kerry Needham said she had been warned by police to "prepare for the worst".

She said: "I think it really now is a case of finding him not alive."

Though Mrs Needham said she no longer expected a happy outcome to the case, she spoke of her anguish at never having discovered what had happened to her son.

She said: "We can't live another 25 years like this, my parents can't and I can't. It's not the best solution but it will eventually lay it to rest for us, we're all extremely tired and distressed."

She added: "Twenty-five years living and not knowing where your child is is torment. I don't like to say it, but then at least we would know and it would be closure and he can be laid to rest and we can remember him as he was.

"Unfortunately it looks like it's going to be a bad outcome but we'll just try to get on with everything."

Police are expected to hold a briefing on Monday to update on the findings of the search, from which 60 items were being analysed in the UK.

Ben Needham
Ben Needham went missing 25 years ago from the island of Kos in Greece Reuters