A hotel worker at the centre of a police investigation into claims that missing Ben Needham was spotted alive in Corfu has denied snatching him.
Three Greek witnesses believe they saw the woman, called Maria, carrying a distressed boy who looked like Ben.
They claimed she told them she found the child abandoned on a nearby beach after he was dumped by gypsies.
Much later, one of the witnesses claimed the young campsite worker told him that instead of taking the child to police, she kept him.
Ben’s mum Kerry Needham, 49, from Sheffield, South Yorks, has been struggling to cope with the 30th anniversary of her son’s disappearance.
Ben was 21 months old when he vanished 600 miles from Corfu on the island of Kos on July 24, 1991.
But former Corfu campsite restaurant waitress Maria, who says she was 21 at the time, denies ever finding a blond boy and keeping him.
She said: “I have searched my memory and this did not happen.
“I would not have taken the initiative to take a child to the police. My boss would have done that. I was very nervous and naive and under the protection of the restaurant owners.
Andy Commins / Daily Mirror)
“And how could I bring up the boy as my own? I have a 23-year-old daughter. I don’t have a son. You can ask anyone that knows me. It makes me feel sad for the mum and her loss but this is not right. This never happened.”
Since the Greek police investigation into the witnesses’ claims emerged last week, five Brits have come forward to say they thought they saw Ben on Corfu.
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Two couples, including a woman who works for major crimes in a UK police force, said they saw the toddler 25 minutes away from the campsite in 1992. They reported their sightings to police years ago but came forward again after hearing of the new claims.
Ben’s mum Kerry, who earlier contacted Maria through Instagram, said: “She told us she was 16 or 17 at the time. Now she’s 21?
“I’m concerned about her memory. I’m hoping police are going to take it seriously. I find all the sightings unbelievable after all these years. That’s five more people coming forward and they reported it to police but nothing was done. I’d like to thank them and urge anyone with any similar information to come forward.”