Thu. Jun 13th, 2024

ALEX Batty’s grandmother said it was “like a dream” to hear his voice for the first time as he is set to fly home this weekend six years after he went missing. 

The British boy was just 11 years old when he disappeared while on holiday in Spain in 2017, leaving his gran heartbroken and sparking a kidnap probe. 

PA:Press AssociationAlex Batty’s grandmother (pictured) thought she might never see him again[/caption]

Focus FeaturesAlex, pictured at a family BBQ, disappeared in 2017 and turned up in France this week[/caption]

Pixel8000Alex was allegedly kidnapped by his mum and grandad (pictured in 2017) – Susan’s ex-partner, while on holiday[/caption]

He was travelling with his mum, Melanie, 43, and grandad David, 64, who were not his legal guardians and failed to return home.

On Wednesday – six years after he was last seen – Alex, now 17, was picked up by a student almost 900 miles away in Revel, near Toulouse, who alerted cops. 

It emerged he’d been living in a commune before trekking across the French Pyrenees for four days on foot to get away. 

Susan said she feared his mum had forced him to adopt an “alternative lifestyle” and that she would never see him again.

Alex spoke to his grandmother and legal guardian, Susan Caruana, on Thursday night, telling her he loved her and wanted to come home to Oldham, Greater Manchester. 

Speaking to The Sun yesterday morning, the 68-year-old said: “When I first heard Alex’s voice it was absolutely like a dream. It is unbelievable.”

Officers from Greater Manchester Police have now flown out to France and are working to bring him back to the UK as “a priority”. 

French authorities today said he will probably return on Saturday.

On Friday police in France revealed that his grandad – who was with them in the commune – may have been dead for six months.

French prosecutor Antoine Leroy also said that his mother could be hiding in Finland.

Leroy claimed Alex decided to leave his mother in the Pyrenees mountains when she told him they needed to move to Finland.

He said Alex and his mother and grandfather “were constantly on the move”.

Leroy added: “We still need to find out more.

“There was a phobia around certain elements of life which meant the family would travel in a community with ten people at a time.”

Alex left the UK on September 30, 2017, with his mum and grandad, for a week in Marbella. 

He was due to return to England on October 8, but was never seen again. 

Susan thought Melanie, who had become obsessed with the same cult-like ideas as her ex-partner David, might have fled with him to a Moroccan commune where she had previously lived.

In 2014, Melanie had taken Alex, aged eight, to live there and David had soon followed.

Alex’s mum apparently then moved to Bali with a new boyfriend, leading the youngster to move in with his grandmother.

Alex Batty, was 11 years old when he went missing during a family holiday in Spain in 2017

His mum Melanie and grandad allegedly kidnapped him, leaving his grandmother and legal guardian Susan devastated

On December 14 Alex was found alive and well six years after his kidnapping

He hiked for four days to escape a commune in the Pyrenees mountains

His family in the UK think he was “brainwashed” by his mum and grandad’s beliefs

Alex is now due to return to the UK tomorrow

The lorry driver who picked him up has revealed his simple hope after the six-year ordeal

And his grandad may have been dead for six months as cops think his mum could’ve fled to Finland, prompting his escape

Relative Stephen Devine, 42, the cousin of Alex’s mum, said yesterday: “Alex’s mum was involved in a cult. 

“His grandma became his guardian but then his mum Melanie and grandfather offered to take him on holiday for a week and they were never seen again.

“It is going to be a big adjustment for him. He’s probably grown up without a formal education.”

Raisa Devine, also a cousin, said she had not seen Alex since 2016. 

She added: “He was very settled with his grandma and she was devastated when he disappeared.

“I have not spoken to Susan for a while and not since Alex was found. I am very pleased he has turned up.”

At a press conference held at GMP headquarters on Friday morning, Assistant Chief Constable Chris Sykes said the force is “relieved and overjoyed” and revealed that Alex had a video call with his grandma. 

He told reporters: “I think I speak on behalf of the whole of Greater Manchester Police when I say we were relieved and overjoyed to receive news from the French Authorities that they believe Alex Batty had been located safe and well, more than six years after his disappearance.

“This is a huge moment for Alex, for his family and for the community in Oldham.

“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 country.

“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.

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

Cops said Alex is currently being “well cared for” by French authorities, who are working to sort his paperwork so he can fly home. 

His gran never gave up hope of finding him and would regularly post birthday messages to him online, saying: “All I want to know is that you’re alive and well. It’s been years of torture. My heart is broken.

“I love you so much. I hope that I will see you again some day. I would give anything just for one hug.”

The message Alex sent to his grandmother after he was picked up on the roadside while fleeing the commune

PA:Press AssociationAlex’s gran never gave up hope of finding him and would regularly post birthday messages to him online[/caption]


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