Alex Batty: British teenager found in France returns to the UK

Image source, Greater Manchester Police

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Alex Batty Younger, pictured before his disappearance

British teenager Alex Batty, who was found in France after disappearing for six years, has returned to the UK, Greater Manchester Police said.

Alex, his mother and grandfather disappeared in 2017 while on vacation in Spain.

His mother does not have parental custody of the 17-year-old, and her current whereabouts are unknown.

The force said in a press conference that it had not yet determined the circumstances of his disappearance.

Police have not yet determined whether a criminal investigation will be conducted.

Alex was found by a motorist on Wednesday, who spotted him on a road in the foothills of the French Pyrenees, near Toulouse.

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Assistant Chief Constable Matt Boyle said his force had not yet determined whether there would be a criminal investigation

Speaking at a press conference on Saturday evening, GMP Assistant Chief Constable Matt Boyle said Alex had been met by a family member and specially trained officers at Toulouse Airport earlier, before returning to the UK.

He added: “This was undoubtedly a huge moment for him and his loved ones, and we are happy that they were able to see each other again after all this time.”

GMP said it had not obtained official statements from Alex, and could not comment on the details revealed by French authorities about what he was doing during his disappearance.

ACC Boyle added: “Talking to him at a pace he feels comfortable with will ultimately determine how this case progresses and whether a criminal investigation will be conducted.”

“We have not yet been able to fully determine the circumstances surrounding his disappearance.”

Alex is believed to have been living a nomadic lifestyle in spiritual communities with his mother and grandfather for the past few years.

Melanie and David Batty left Greater Manchester with Alex for a pre-agreed week-long holiday in Marbella in Spain on 30 September 2017.

They were last seen in the port of Malaga on October 8 that year, the day they were expected to return to the UK.

It is understood that from that time on, Alex lived in the remote Pyrenean valleys, moving from place to place in a kind of itinerant community.

The region, located in the foothills of the Pyrenees Mountains, is known for attracting people looking for alternative lifestyles.

Residents of the small village of La Bastide in the Pyrenees told the BBC that Alex had been staying at a guest house on and off for the past two years.

French officials said he decided to leave when his mother wanted to go to Finland.

It is believed Alex walked across the mountainous terrain in southern France for four days before a delivery driver found him in the middle of the night.

The driver, Fabian Oxedini, said he lent the teen his phone and allowed him to use his Facebook account to contact his grandmother, Suzanne Caruana.

“I cannot begin to express my relief and happiness that Alex has been found safe and well,” she said in a statement released by police on Friday.

She added that “it’s so good to hear his voice and see his face again.”

She asked for privacy for the family so they could “make his return as comfortable as possible.”

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