UK teen Alex Batty arrives home after going missing on holiday in 2017

Teen told investigators he spent six years living a nomadic lifestyle in Spain, Morocco and France.

An undated still image shows Alex Batty
Alex Batty went missing in 2017 at the age of 11 [File: Greater Manchester Police/Handout via Reuters]

A British teenager who went missing for six years before turning up in France has arrived back in the United Kingdom, police have said.

Alex Batty never returned home after travelling to Spain in 2017 with his mother and grandfather for what was supposed to be a two-week family holiday.

The then 11-year-old boy’s disappearance sparked unsuccessful appeals for information about his whereabouts – until he turned up last week walking along a road late at night in southern France.

“It gives me great pleasure to say Alex has now made his safe return back to the UK after six years,” Matt Boyle of Greater Manchester Police told reporters on Saturday.

Boyle said police are yet to fully establish the circumstances surrounding his disappearance and whether a criminal investigation is warranted.

Boyle said that officers, who are seeking to locate his mother Melanie Batty, would speak to the teen “at a pace that feels comfortable to him”.

Batty, now 17, will return to his maternal grandmother, Susan Caruana, whom a British court entrusted with his custody before he vanished.

Caruana requested that the family be granted space to process the news.

“I cannot begin to express my relief and happiness that Alex has been found safe and well,” she said in a statement issued through British police.

“The main thing is that he’s safe, after what would be an overwhelming experience for anyone, not least a child.”

Batty told French officials he spent the past six years living a nomadic lifestyle with his mother and grandfather in Spain, Morocco and France as part of a “spiritual community”.

He said the family grew their own food, meditated and contemplated esoteric subjects such as reincarnation.

A doctor who examined Batty said the teen was healthy and did not appear to have suffered any abuse.

French prosecutor Antoine Leroy told reporters on Friday that Batty had decided to leave his family after his mother said she wished to move to Finland, where she is “likely” to be now.

Source: News Agencies