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by Mick the Ram
An English teenager who went missing six years ago in Spain and has not been heard of since, has turned up in France.
Alex Batty, now seventeen, but only an 11-year-old boy back in 2017, was involved in a bizarre “abduction” by his mother, Melanie Batty, 38 (who was not his legal guardian) and grandfather, David Batty, 59, after a travelling holiday in southern Spain.
They failed to return home and a search was mounted, but to no avail and he had not been heard of since; but earlier this week he was discovered by a delivery driver in the middle of the night, near the town of Revel, east of Toulouse, in the foothills of the Pyrenees, carrying a backpack and a… skateboard.
He explained that he had been living in a “spiritual community” just as his actual legal guardian, his grandmother, Susan Caruana, 68, had suspected. At the time the three went missing she told authorities and those searching for him that his mother and grandfather were seeking an alternative lifestyle and did not want Alex to go into mainstream schooling.
On hearing the news of his reappearance she said she was thrilled and looking forward to being reunited with her grandson in the coming days.
One week holiday but never returned
The story made the headlines in 2017, with a huge police search mounted, but after a period of time it was assumed he was well and in safe hands and the search was scaled down and more or less came to an end.
The trio had flown into Malaga airport in Spain on a pre-agreed trip for a week-long stay in the Benahavis area, near Marbella on 30 September 2017, and should have returned on 8 October, but they failed to show up.
Living in a “spiritual community”
Recalling that day, Alex’s heartbroken grandmother Susan revealed that the trio had sent her a video of themselves saying why they had left the UK to live an “alternative lifestyle”.
Alex apparently lived for three years in Spain in a luxury house with around ten other people. More recently they had been in southern France, near Perpignan, living in tents and caravans pitched in the wilderness.
Hiking across the Pyrenees
He seemingly decided he wanted out of that lifestyle and fled the “spiritual community” and started to hike across the Pyrenees mountains. After an exhausting journey he stumbled onto a road and by some stroke of luck was picked up by chiropractic student Fabien Accidini, who has a part-time job delivering medicines by lorry.
Pouring heart out to astonished student driver
Taking up the story, Fabien said he spotted the teenager in the early hours walking in the pouring rain, so stopped to offer him a lift, which Alex gratefully accepted. Recalling that initially his new passenger was a little shy and actually gave a false name of Zach, he eventually gained some confidence and suddenly declared his true identity.
For the next few hours he told his incredible story with Fabien bewildered by what he was hearing. He drove Alex to the gendarmes who naturally wanted to question him further and check if he was genuinely the missing Alex Batty.
Once his identification checked out they contacted his home police force in Greater Manchester, who got in touch with his grandmother, Susan.
She was able to speak with Alex and afterwards said: “I am so happy. He is well and is safe with the authorities in France. It is such a shock, I don’t know where his mum is, but it is just great news and I am just waiting for him to come home now; I am so thrilled!”
She also asked for some privacy to be granted to the family, adding: “The main thing is that he’s safe, after what would be an overwhelming experience for anyone, not least a child.”
Not the life for Alex
Seemingly, the area in the foothills of the Pyrenees is well-known for attracting people in search of alternative lifestyles; but for Alex, it was somewhere he had no intention of staying any longer and very soon he will be back home in England, to end a remarkable chapter in his young life.