Alex Batty, the young Briton who reappeared in France after six years of absence, returned to the United Kingdom

There are still several gray areas but before shedding light on the circumstances of his disappearance and the six years that followed, Alex Batty, the British teenager found in France this week, returned safely to his country on Saturday, December 16

Alex Batty, the young Briton who reappeared in France after six years of absence, returned to the United Kingdom

There are still several gray areas but before shedding light on the circumstances of his disappearance and the six years that followed, Alex Batty, the British teenager found in France this week, returned safely to his country on Saturday, December 16 .

The 17-year-old was repatriated under British police escort from Toulouse, in the south-west of France, to reunite with his maternal grandmother, who had been entrusted with his custody by British justice before his mother took it off in 2017 during a vacation in Spain.

“I am very pleased to announce that Alex has returned safely to the United Kingdom after six years of absence,” said a police official from Manchester (northern England), Matt Boyle, to journalists. “This is an immensely important moment for him and his loved ones and we are happy that they were able to see each other again after all this time,” he said.

He added that he would be questioned “at a pace that suits him”, which will determine the legal outcome of the case, insisting that it would be a “difficult process” for the young man. The priority, he continued, will be to ensure the well-being of Alex and his family “and his reintegration into society as quickly as possible”.

A mother nowhere to be found

Alex Batty, who had led a “nomadic” life within a “spiritual” community for six years, was found on Wednesday in the middle of the night while walking along a road, said Toulouse deputy prosecutor Antoine Leroy during a press conference on Friday. He is in good health, “very calm”, seems to have a “lively intelligence”, according to the doctor who examined him, and does not appear to have suffered any abuse during the six years of his kidnapping. The mother, who has not been found to date, could currently be in Finland, Mr. Leroy said.

The man who is now a young man was only 11 years old when he disappeared in the summer of 2017. His mother Melanie Batty, deprived of custody of her child because she was deemed “unstable”, had obtained authorization from the take him on vacation to Spain for two weeks. But when this deadline expired, Alex Batty did not return to his grandmother, who lives near Manchester, in the northwest of England. A search notice was then launched, on August 10, 2017, to find the child, his mother and his grandfather, David Batty, divorced from Susan Caruana.

For six years, the fugitives led a life of frequent travel, never staying more than a few months in the same place, first in Morocco then in the French Pyrenees. Alex Batty, who does not suffer physical violence, as he explained during his hearing by the gendarmes, must live according to spiritual precepts, such as “work on the ego, meditation, reincarnation” , explained Antoine Leroy on Friday.

But when his mother tells him that she wants to continue their “journey” in Finland, the young man decides to leave and takes the road towards Toulouse, along the RN7. He then walks at night, sleeping during the day, for four days, apparently so as not to come across anyone, and feeds on food gleaned from “gardens and fields”, according to the deputy prosecutor.

He wants to go back to school

It was there that a delivery driver, Fabien Accidini, found him around 3 a.m. according to the magistrate, walking in the pouring rain, before entrusting him to the gendarmes after Alex Batty had told him his story and revealed his identity. “He was a little suspicious at the very beginning,” this young man, also a chiropractic student in Toulouse, told Agence France-Presse, to whom the teenager initially gave a false first name.

Over the course of the remaining deliveries, Alex Batty gradually told him his story. “That’s where I started to hallucinate,” breathes Fabien Accidini. “When he told me he was kidnapped, I made him repeat it, it was crazy. »

“I am very happy to have been able to help him, and that he can live his life as a young man, like me when I was his age,” added the delivery man. “He told me that he wanted to go back to school, to become an engineer,” despite his six years put on hold.