UK police probe alleged abduction of teen found in France after six years

Alex Batty disappeared while on holiday with his mother and grandfather, living an off-grid life before he was found last week.

France missing UK teen
A delivery driver picked up Alex Batty on this road in Chalabre, France, on December 13, 2023, after he had been missing for six years [File: Stephane Mahe/Reuters]

Police in the United Kingdom have launched a criminal investigation into the alleged abduction of a British teen found in France after going missing abroad for six years.

Greater Manchester Police said on Friday that the force has opened the inquiry after interviewing 17-year-old Alex Batty following his return to the UK last week.

Batty disappeared in October 2017 while on a holiday in Spain with his mother and grandfather. He resurfaced in a mountainous area of southern France last week.

The two-week family holiday turned out to be a six-year odyssey through Morocco, Spain and southwest France as he and his mother lived an off-the-grid life.

The teenager told French investigators he had spent the past two years living in “spiritual communities” in France with his mother, never staying more than several months in the same place.

An undated still image shows Alex Batty
An undated picture of Alex Batty [File: Greater Manchester Police/Handout via Reuters]

The teenager says he decided to return to Britain because he wanted a better future.

Batty told the Sun tabloid in an interview published on Friday that he had grown tired of drifting around Europe.

“I realised it wasn’t a great way to live for my future,” said the teenager, who is back under the legal guardianship of his maternal grandmother in Oldham, northern England.

“Moving around, no friends, no social life, working, working, work and not studying – that’s the life I imagined I would be leading if I were to stay with my mum.”

Batty was found walking near Toulouse by a delivery driver last week. He was in good health.

“She’s a great person, and I love her, but she’s just not a great mum,” Batty told the Sun, referring to his mother, Melanie Batty.

He added that she was “anti-government, anti-vax” and her catchphrase was “becoming a slave to the system”.

“I had an argument with my mum, and I just thought I’m gonna leave because I can’t live with her,” Batty said.

He told the newspaper that his grandfather David Batty was still alive after French investigators reported that he had died six months ago.

Batty also said he had been walking for two days when he was found, not the four that he had told French police.

He said he lied to investigators to try to protect his grandfather and mother, who he believes is planning to go to Finland.

Batty added that he was going to be “busy studying and catching up” and that he hopes to eventually work in the technology sector.

Source: News Agencies