Alex Batty: British boy missing for 6 years found on road in France

Click to play video: 'Alex Batty: British boy missing for 6 years found in France roaming the roads'
Alex Batty: British boy missing for 6 years found in France roaming the roads
WATCH: A teenager from Britain, who was found in southern France after disappearing six years ago, is expected to return to his family in northern England in the next few days, Manchester police said on Friday. Alex Batty disappeared at the age of 11 during a holiday with his mother and grandfather to Málaga, Spain, in 2017 — and both are still wanted in connection with his disappearance – Dec 15, 2023

Alex Batty, an 11-year-old boy who was reported missing during a trip to Spain in 2017, has been found in France and will return home to the U.K. in the coming days, authorities said.

Alex, now 17, was discovered walking alongside a road in the small town of Revel in southern France early Wednesday. He had only a backpack, skateboard and a flashlight when a delivery driver stopped to offer the boy a ride around 3 a.m. local time, the BBC reported.

He was in good health and did not appear to have been abused in any way.

Police in Toulouse, east of Revel, said Alex’s family have since confirmed his identity.

Six years ago, Alex vanished while on a week-long vacation to Málaga, Spain with his mother, Melanie Batty, and grandfather, David Batty. Alex and his family members were supposed to return to the U.K. on Oct. 8, 2017, but they never did.

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Alex’s grandmother, Susan Caruana, was and is his primary legal guardian.

Click to play video: 'UK boy missing for 6 years returned home safely after spending last 2 years in France'
UK boy missing for 6 years returned home safely after spending last 2 years in France

Melanie and David are both wanted in connection to Alex’s abduction. Their whereabouts are not known.

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On Thursday, Alex spoke to Caruana via a video call, the Greater Manchester Police said during a press conference the following day. Caruana confirmed the boy is indeed her grandson.

British boy Alex Batty, pictured above age 11, was found on Dec. 13, 2023, after he’d been missing for six years. Greater Manchester Police

Alex is currently in the care of social services but will return to the U.K. in the coming days. Manchester police said they still have “further checks” to complete once Alex is back in the country.

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“Alex and his family remain our focus,” said Assistant Chief Constable Chris Sykes. “We still have some work to do in establishing the full circumstances surrounding his disappearance, and where he has been in all those years.”

The investigation is ongoing.

Where was Alex Batty?

Alex reportedly told police he’d been in France for the last two years.

He was spotted on Wednesday in the foothills of the Pyrenees, near Revel, by an early morning delivery driver en route to bring medications to a local pharmacy, the BBC reported.

When the driver, Fabien Accidini, saw the teen walking alone in the rain, with a flashlight guiding his way in the dark, he offered Alex a ride.

Alex told the driver, and later police, that he’d been walking in the Pyrenees for four days already. He said his mother took him to join a travelling, spiritual commune in 2017. Alex said he’d abandoned the lifestyle to search for his grandmother in the U.K.

He originally told the driver his name was Zach, but quickly revealed his identity as the pair spoke over several hours. Alex allegedly told Accidini he’d been kidnapped by his mother.

Accidini said Alex’s French “wasn’t great,” so they spoke in English. He told the BBC Alex did not make mention of his grandfather but said he and his mother joined a commune in the valleys of the Pyrenees.

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Alex could not pinpoint exactly where the commune was located, but allegedly told Accidini it was near the southwest border with Spain. He did not have a cellphone. He used Accidini’s phone to send a Facebook message to his grandmother from the man’s account.

The message to Caruana, according to the BBC, read, “Hello grandma it is me Alex i am in France Toulouse i really hope that you recieve [sic] this message i love you i want to come home.”

Accidini contacted French authorities.

In 2018, Alex’s grandmother told the BBC she believed Melanie and David (who is Caruana’s ex-husband) took the boy to live in a commune in Morocco in pursuit of an “alternative lifestyle.” Caruana said Melanie and David shared a “different belief system” and did not want Alex to attend a conventional school.

Caruana said she was “broken” by Alex’s disappearance.

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