Alex Batty: British teen found in France set to return to UK soon

Image source, Greater Manchester Police

Image caption,

A younger Alex Batty, pictured before he went missing

British teenager Alex Batty, found in France after six years missing, is expected to return home to the UK in the coming hours.

Alex vanished in 2017 on a holiday in Spain with his mother and grandfather.

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

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

The Agence France-Presse news agency reported British police officers will accompany the boy on a flight from France, citing French prosecutor Antoine Leroy.

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

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

Alex is believed to have walked through the mountainous terrain of southern France for four days before being found by a delivery driver in the middle of the night.

The driver, Fabien Accidini, said he lent the teenager his phone and let him use his Facebook account to contact his grandmother, Susan Caruana.

Ms Caruana, who is the teenager’s legal guardian based in Oldham, said she can’t wait to be reunited with him.

Image caption,

Alex’s grandmother Susan Caruana, pictured in 2019, spoke of her relief and happiness

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

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

She requested privacy for the family, so that they could “make his return as comforting as possible”.

The BBC has spoken to residents of the small hamlet of La Bastide in the Pyrenees.

Locals said Alex had been staying at a guesthouse there on and off for the past two years.

Image caption,

The guesthouse in the Pyrenees where locals say Alex was living

They said he was living with his grandfather, who did odd jobs in the area, and his mother was in the neighbouring region.

The residents added while his French wasn’t great, he was always polite.

French police said Alex told them his grandfather died about six months ago.

Three locals, however, have told the BBC his grandfather was seen alive as recently as last week.

Additional reporting by Chris Bockman and Lisa Louis


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