Sat. Jun 22nd, 2024

A BRITISH teen could return to the UK today six years after he was allegedly kidnapped by his mum and grandad who are being hunted by cops.

Alex Batty was just 11 years old when he vanished while on holiday in Spain in 2017.

Greater Manchester PoliceBrit Alex Batty was found alive in France after vanishing six years ago[/caption]

Pixel8000Alex in 2017 with his mum and grandad in a video sent to his family in the UK[/caption]

FacebookFriends of Alex on Facebook include people who appear to live off-grid and practice rituals and meditation[/caption]

The youngster, now 17, was travelling with his mum, Melanie, then 37, and grandfather David, then 58, when they failed to return home – sparking an abduction probe.

Alex’s grandmother and official guardian, Susan Caruana, said she believed her daughter and ex-husband had taken him abroad to live an “alternative lifestyle”.

His family in England have since claimed he was “brainwashed” as they wait for him to return to Manchester.

On Thursday, it emerged Alex, from Oldham, Gtr Manchester, had been found after hiking through the Pyrenees mountains for days to escape the “spiritual” commune where he’d been living.

As of Friday morning he was still in the care of social services in Toulouse, France.

But a French police spokesman said he is likely to fly to Manchester, before returning to the home of his grandmother, Susan, in Oldham.

“She is his legal guardian, and the case is now in the hands of Manchester police,” said the source. 

“The young man is staying at a youth hostel in Toulouse, but should be back in Britain soon.”

British cops are also preparing to arrest his mum Melanie and grandad David after they allegedly abducted him and forced him to live in the commune.

A focus of the enquiry is a claim that Alex’s mother did not want him to go to school, said the police source.

The teen was apparently living with no formal teaching or health care, but he has refused to give up his mum’s location.

It is understood the off-grid commune is completely isolated from mainstream society and has no schools.

Friends of Alex on Facebook appear to live off-grid and practice rituals, meditation and yoga.

Their posts refer to “Gaia”, the Greek earth goddess and they praise the creation of “sustainable and abundant communities”.

Alex’s aunt, Maureen Batty, said the family worried about the youngster, claiming he “had it rough” while away from relatives in the UK.

The 73-year-old told the Mail: “Alex has been brainwashed by the religion David was in.

“Alex hasn’t had any education while out there, so we don’t know what he’ll be like when he comes home.

“[He] has had it rough. It is a mess.”

Ms Batty said she had been told Alex no longer wanted to live the same lifestyle in the itinerant commune.

Assistant Chief Constable Chris Sykes of Greater Manchester Police said: “Our main priority now is to see Alex returned home to his family in the UK and our investigation team are working around the clock with partner agencies and the French authorities to ensure they are all fully supported.

“Alex and his family remain our focus and we still have some work to do in establishing the full circumstances surrounding his disappearance and where he has been in all those years.

“I can only imagine the emotions they have experienced as a family throughout this ordeal.”

On Friday Sykes said Alex had spoken with his grandmother on a video call on Thursday evening and that he is being well looked after by French authorities.

“The young man and Alex’s grandmother spoke on a video call last night and whilst she is content that this is indeed Alex, we obviously have further checks to do when he returns to the United Kingdom.”

While French sources suggested he could fly home today – Manchester police said he is expected to return within the next two days.

Prosecutors yesterday revealed that the lad has been found alive and well in Revel, near Toulouse, France, after fleeing the “spiritual community”.

Investigators believe Alex had been living in the foothills of the Pyrenees.

After four days of hiking, he was reportedly picked up by a lorry driver who became suspicious and called police.

Alex was walking along a road with a backpack, skateboard and headlamp. 

On the way to the police station he reportedly asked to borrow the man’s phone and sent his grandmother a message via Facebook Messenger letting her know he was alive. 

It’s claimed he’d had enough living the “alternative lifestyle” and decided to leave. 

The French student who found him said Alex told him “My mother kidnapped me when I was 12 years old”.

Alex had previously flown out to Spain on a pre-agreed trip with his mum and grandfather for a week-long stay in the Benahavis area, near Marbella, in October 2017.

But they never returned home, prompting a massive police enquiry into the boy’s apparent abduction.

Alex’s mother and grandfather remain wanted in connection with his disappearance.

His grandmother Susan previously received a video through Facebook of the three of them on the day they were due to return in 2017.

It was released without audio by Greater Manchester Police, and appears to show Alex, Melanie and David reading from some kind of script.

Speaking from her home in Oldham on Thursday, Susan said she was “thrilled” that her grandson has finally been found.

She said: “I am so happy. I have spoken to him and he is well. 

“He is currently with the authorities in France. It is such a shock. 

“I don’t know where his mum is. It is great news.

“I am just waiting for him to come home – I am thrilled.”

Alex sent his grandma a text telling her he was alive after a lorry driver picked him up

Focus FeaturesAlex before he was allegedly kidnapped[/caption]

PA:Press AssociationAlex went on holiday with his mum Melanie (pictured) in 2017 but never returned to the UK[/caption]

Cops are now hunting both Melanie and David, his grandad (pictured)

PA:Press AssociationAlex’s grandmother and legal guardian said she has spoken to him and is thrilled he has been found safe[/caption]

Alex at Christmas before he disappearedFocus Features

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