British teen Alex Batty found in France returns to UK
LONDON, United Kingdom, (AFP) — British teen Alex Batty, who was found this week in France after he went missing six years ago while on holiday, has arrived back in the UK, police said Saturday.
Alex never returned from that vacation in 2017, when he was just 11 years old, but resurfaced in the middle of the night this week when a driver picked him up along a mountainous area of southern France.
“It gives me great pleasure to say Alex has now made his safe return back to the UK after six years,” Matt Boyle of Greater Manchester Police told reporters at the force’s headquarters.
Now aged 17, Alex will be returned to his maternal grandmother, with whom the British justice system had entrusted his custody before his mother abducted him.
“I can’t wait to see him when we’re reunited,” Alex’s grandmother Susan Caruana — who according to British media reports remains his legal guardian — said in a statement released by Greater Manchester Police.
“The main thing is that he’s safe, after what would be an overwhelming experience for anyone, not least a child,” she said.
Alex’s mother, Melanie Batty, has yet to be found but could be in Finland, Toulouse assistant prosecutor Antoine Leroy said earlier.
For the past six years, including two in France, Alex has lived a “nomadic” life in a “spiritual community”, never staying more than several months in the same place, he told investigators.
The teen was found by a delivery driver after he had walked for four days, the deputy prosecutor told a news conference on Friday evening.
He is in good health and does not appear to have been abused in the years since his abduction, according to the doctor who examined him.
Alex told investigators he had not suffered any physical violence during the past six years.
Earlier Saturday, the 17-year-old boarded a KLM flight in Toulouse, headed to London via Amsterdam.
He was accompanied by British police officers and a family member, according to the force.