Police start child abduction inquiry into Alex Batty’s disappearance | UK | News

December 22, 2023
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Police have launched a criminal investigation into teenager Alex Batty’s six-year disappearance after he fled life with his mother and grandfather in France.

Officers said they began the child abduction inquiry after interviewing the 17-year-old on his return to England.

The news came after Alex revealed details of his life as an unwilling nomadic drop-out with mother Melanie and grandad David Batty.

He said he met just one person his own age during the years they spent moving around Europe, and never spent a day at school.

He learnt languages, maths and technology from books and worked for his keep alongside his grandfather, he said.

But Alex, who has now been reunited with his legal guardian, grandmother Susan, in Oldham, Greater Manchester, said he was desperate for a normal life.

He said: “I had an argument with my mum and I just thought I’m going to leave because I can’t live with her. She’s a great person and I love her but she’s just not a great mum.”

The teenager vanished aged 11 and was living with Melanie, 46, and David, 64, in the French Pyrenees.

They had failed to return to England after travelling to Marbella, Spain, in 2017 for a holiday.

Alex, who wants to be a computer scientist, claimed the six years were spent “moving around, no friends, no social life” and that he was “working, working and not ­studying”. He added: “That’s the life I imagined I would be leading if I were to stay with my mum. It would always be the same whether it was France or Spain.

“In the mountains, in the middle of nowhere. No people my age.”

Alex decided to escape when he was 16 and persuaded his mother to rent a house near Chalabre, southern France, to be nearer larger towns and cities.

He packed a rucksack with some clothes, a torch, 100 euros and a Swiss Army Knife and took his skateboard.

After leaving a note for his mother telling her he loved her, he left the house at midnight and began walking to the nearest city, Toulouse, 70 miles away. Alex told The Sun newspaper: “I slept ­outside on the ground. It was freezing. If I needed the toilet, I used leaves and grass.”

But after trekking for 22 miles over two days, he was spotted exhausted and cold at 3am by a delivery driver.

He wanted to make sure his mother and grandfather were not tracked down and arrested for abduction, so he invented a story about walking for longer.

He added: “I’ve been lying to try to protect my mum and grandad but I realise that they’re probably going to get caught anyway.”

The lorry driver let Alex call Susan on his phone, then contacted police, who took him to a station. They made him comfortable until an English translator came.

Then, he was taken to a foster home until his flight back to Manchester.

Alex said: “When I got back to Manchester, I was driven back to my gran’s house. I started shaking and just gave her a massive hug.”

He will now remain in Susan’s care until his 18th birthday after a judge ruled on Thursday that he was a ward of court.

A police spokesman said: “Greater Manchester Police has launched a criminal investigation into child abduction to understand the ­circumstances surrounding Alex Batty going missing.”



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