British officials could return Alex Batty to the UK within hours
A British schoolboy who has been discovered in France after he was believed to have been abducted by his mother six years ago “wanted to see his grandmother and have a normal future”, according to the delivery driver who found him.
Alex Batty, who is now 17, went missing in 2017 after going on a family holiday to Spain.
Detectives believe he was abducted by his mother Melanie Batty to live an “alternative” lifestyle abroad.
French police said the teenager is “well and providing information”, according to reports.
Chiropody student Fabien Accidini had offered the teenager a lift in the early hours of Wednesday after spotting him walking alone near the city of Toulouse.
The 26-year-old told Sky News that Alex revealed that since being kidnapped by his mother they had lived in a luxury house in Spain with around 10 people as part of a “spiritual community”, before moving to France in around 2021.
The teenager said he had been hiking in nearby mountains for more than four days in an attempt to return to England.
Mr Accidini said he did not initially believe the story but later agreed to call the police.
He said: “After I called the police to explain the situation, when the cops arrived, that’s when I realised the whole story [was real].”
The student said Alex did not seem angry at being held in the “community” and said he had not been chained up – although it was unclear if he had been allowed to leave at any time.
Mr Accidini said: “He didn’t have regrets [about leaving the community]… he just wanted to live a normal life, to see his grandmother again and to have a normal future, that’s the word that he used.”
Alex’s grandmother, Susan Caruana, said she believed her ex-partner and daughter had run away because they wanted Alex to have an “alternative lifestyle”.
She told The Times: “They didn’t want him to go to school. They don’t believe in mainstream school.
“I spoke to him this afternoon and it is definitely him. I was speaking to a boy when he was with us and now I’m speaking to a man.
“It’s quite unbelievable when you don’t know if somebody’s dead or alive.”
The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) said: “We are supporting a British national in France and are in contact with local authorities.”
The BBC reports the case has officially been handed over to British police and British officials could bring Alex back to the UK as early as Friday.
The youngster, from Fitton Hill in Oldham, went abroad with Ms Batty, who does not have legal parental guardianship, and his grandfather David Batty on a pre-agreed trip in 2017.
He flew with them to Malaga Airport for a week-long stay in the Benahavis area near Marbella.
However, they did not return to England as expected on October 8 2017.
David and Melanie Batty remain wanted in connection with Alex’s disappearance.
Despite international public appeals, Alex’s legal guardian, Ms Caruana, had not seen him since he left the UK.
She previously said her daughter and ex-husband lived in a commune in Morocco with Alex in 2014 as part of an “alternative lifestyle”, which she thought lay behind the youngster’s disappearance.
Published: by Radio NewsHub