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Police launch probe into alleged abduction of British teen Alex Batty who went missing 6 years ago

Police say they've launched a criminal investigation into the alleged abduction of British teenager Alex Batty who was missing for six years

Via AP news wire
Friday 22 December 2023 15:28 GMT
France Britain Teenager Found
France Britain Teenager Found

A criminal investigation was launched into the alleged abduction of British teenager Alex Batty, who was found last week in France six years after his mother and grandfather took him on a vacation and never returned home, Greater Manchester police said Friday.

Batty, 17, returned to Oldham, near Manchester, on Saturday and was reunited with his grandmother — the legal guardian who had made frantic and emotional appeals over the years for his return.

A delivery driver found Batty walking along a road in southern France in the middle of the night Dec. 13. The boy told police he had been living a nomadic lifestyle in Spain, Morocco and France with his mother and grandfather as part of a “spiritual community” and decided to leave when his mother talked about going to Finland.

Authorities in France said last week that they thought his mother, Melanie Batty, could be in Finland and that his grandfather, David Batty, appeared to have died, but neither of those details seemed clear after the teen gave his first interview.

Batty told The Sun newspaper that he feared his mother and grandfather could be arrested on suspicion of child abduction, so he had lied about his escape.

Batty had left the place they had been staying two days earlier — not four days as he initially reported — and provided other details he thought would throw investigators off their trail, he said.

“I’ve been lying to try and protect my mum and grandad but I realize that they’re probably gonna get caught anyway," he told The Sun. “I pretended I had been on such a long journey for that reason.”

Batty said that the entire time he had been away he only made friends with one child his own age — a Spanish girl. He did not go to school, had to work, had no social life and began to question his future.

He had thought about leaving for at least two years and even discussed it with his mom and grandfather.

“I wouldn’t know what was going to happen in my future if I were to stay with my mum, but from the past few years I could get a picture of what life would have been like,” Batty said. “Moving around. No friends, no social life. Working, working, work and not studying. That’s the life I imagined I would be leading if I were to stay with my mum.”

He said his mother was against him leaving.

“She was very anti-government, anti-vax," Batty said. “She was worried that if I were to go back to a country and get my ID I would be put into care. Her catchphrase was becoming a ‘slave to the system.'”

He said he left the farmhouse where they had been staying near Chalabre in the Aude region of southern France around midnight on Dec. 11 after his mother was in bed.

“She’s a great person and I love her but she’s just not a great mum," he said.

He took a backpack with four T-shirts, three pairs of trousers, a skateboard, flashlight, 100 euros and a Swiss Army Knife.

Batty said he was shaking when he walked into his grandmother's house and gave her a “massive hug.”

He said he wants to go to college to study computer science or cyber security or blockchain development. He said he was happy to be home.

“The house is different now but still feels the same," he said. “The biggest difference is when I left I was a boy but now I’m 6 feet (1.8 meters) so I’m too big for the bed. It feels great to be back.”

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