THE BRITISH teenager Alex Batty, who went missing in Spain in 2017 but was found this week near Toulouse in France, has told his grandmother “I want to come home”. The youngster vanished from Marbella during a vacation six years ago, and had not been heard from until now.
Batty, who is now 17, left the UK on September 30, 2017 for a family holiday in the company of his mother, Melanie Batty (43), and his grandfather, David Batty (64). His mother did not have parental guardianship of the youngster, who was aged 11 at the time of his disappearance.
He did not return from his vacation and his whereabouts were unknown until this week, despite extensive investigations and appeals to locate him.
The Greater Manchester Police (GMP) have now taken over the investigation into his disappearance, according to online newspaper The Manc, and have been working closely with the French authorities and his family.
The police have formally confirmed that the 17-year-old who was spotted by a member of the public in Toulouse earlier this week is indeed Alex Batty.
The GMP said on Friday that their ‘main priority’ in the case is to see him ‘returned home to his family in the UK’. The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office is also working to get him back to England.
“I think I speak on behalf of the whole of Greater Manchester Police when I say we were relieved and overjoyed to receive news from the French Authorities that they believe Alex Batty had been located safe and well, more than six years after his disappearance,” said Assistant Chief Constable Chris Sykes. “This is a huge moment for Alex, for his family and for the community in Oldham.
“Alex and his family remain our focus,” Sykes continued. “And we still have some work to do in establishing the full circumstances surrounding his disappearance and where he has been.”
Police said that he is expected to return home ‘over the next few days’.
Batty is reported to have told Fabien Accidini, the French lorry driver who found him, that his mother “kidnapped me when I was 12 years old.”
“Since then, he had lived in Spain in a luxury house with around 10 people,” Accidini told La Depeche. “He arrived in France in around 2021. In the middle of last weekend, he decided to leave his mother to join his family in England. He had been walking in the mountains for more than four days.
“He lived with his mother in a spiritual community, far away from normal life,” Accidini continued. “Alex told me his mother was a little crazy but she never imprisoned him.”
David and Melanie Batty are still wanted by the police in connection with Alex’s disappearance, according to UK press reports.