Missing Oldham teen Alex Batty told French driver who found him ‘my mother kidnapped me’

Lorry driver discovered missing British boy Alex Batty walking in the mountains in France and offered to give him a lift

Peter Allen
Friday 15 December 2023 10:03 GMT
Missing British boy Alex Batty found in France six years after he was ‘abducted’

A British boy who has been missing for six years told the French lorry driver who found him walking alone on an isolated country road: ‘My mother kidnapped me when I was 12 years old’.

Startling details of now 17-year-old Alex Batty’s ordeal began to emerge on Thursday evening, after it was confirmed he had been found safe and well.

The youngster, from Fitton Hill in Oldham, went abroad with his mother Melanie Batty who does not have legal parental guardianship, and his grandfather David Batty on a pre-agreed trip in 2017. However, they did not return to England as expected on October 8 2017 and he had not been seen since.

Fabien Accidini, a chiropractic student from Toulouse who has a part-time job delivering medicines by lorry, said he spotted the English teenager on Wednesday.

Mr Accidini told La Depeche: “He was walking while the rain fell in heavy drops. The second time I passed him, I decided to offer to drop him off somewhere.

“He was quite tall and blond, and dressed in black jeans, a white sweater and a backpack. “He also carried a skateboard under his arm and a flashlight for lighting. His attitude gave me confidence. He ended up getting into my van.

“During the first few minutes, he seemed a little shy. We tried to speak in French but I noticed that he had not mastered the language. I decided to communicate in English.

Alex told the driver who found him he wanted to find his grandmother
Alex told the driver who found him he wanted to find his grandmother (Supplied)

“When I asked him his name, he pretended his name was Zach, and then we continued chatting,” he continued. “We talked for over three hours. Very quickly, he gave me his real identity - Alex Batty -before telling me his story.

“He said his mother kidnapped him when he was 12 years old. Since then, he had lived in Spain in a luxury house with around ten people.

“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 mountain for more than four days.

“He lived with his mother in a spiritual community, far away from normal life. Alex told me his mother was a little crazy but she never imprisoned him.

“He could leave if he wanted. He had no animosity towards her but really wanted to find his grandmother. He missed his loved ones.’”

Despite international public appeals, Alex’s legal guardian and grandmother Susan Caruana had not seen him since he left the UK.

Investigations into the case are ongoing
Investigations into the case are ongoing (Greater Manchester Police/PA Wire)

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.

Ms Caruana pleaded for the youngster to get in contact with her in 2018, saying: “I just want to say to my grandson Alex, I love you so much and please, please just get in contact.”

The teenager said he did not know exactly where he had been living in France, except that it was ‘in the mountains between Ariège and Aude.’

Driver Mr Accidini said: “He was thirsty since he had been walking for several days, so I gave him some water. When he explained his situation to me, I gave him my phone because he never had a means of communication.

“He sent a message to his grandmother from my Facebook. Unfortunately, she didn’t respond. Initially, Alex wanted to go to a big city to find help and go to an embassy. But finally, I explained to him that the gendarmes could pick him up.’”

The boy had been taken to Spain but was found in France
The boy had been taken to Spain but was found in France (PA)

A police operator told Alex to travel to the town of Revel.

“When he arrived, Alex seemed very tired,’ said Mr Accidini.. “He lay down on the ground.”

“After that, the gendarmes questioned us. They were trying to find out if it was really him. When they had confirmation, he was taken into care to spend the night in a home.

“‘It’s Alex Batty, 100%. When I saw the photos published by the English media, I absolutely did not doubt his words.

“I think he’s a little stressed about all this. I hope he will be able to reconnect with his previous life and maybe one day we will see each other again.”

David and Melanie Batty remain wanted in connection with Alex’s disappearance.

A spokesperson for GMP said: “This is a complex and long-running investigation, and we need to make further enquiries as well as putting appropriate safeguarding measures in place.”

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