Fri. Jul 19th, 2024

THE shack where Alex Batty lived with his granddad and mum for two years before fleeing on foot has been revealed.

Alex, who is now 17, disappeared with Melanie and David Batty in 2017 but is expected to return to the UK in the next few days.

Doug SeeburgAlex Batty lived in a dilapidated cottage with his mum and granddad high up in the foothills of the Pyrenees[/caption]

Manchester PoliceAlex has been found alive in France after vanishing six years ago[/caption]

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

His mother may be in Finland and his grandfather has died, prosecutors have said.

Alex had gone on a family holiday to Spain on September 30 of that year and is believed to have been abducted by his 43-year-old mother to live an “alternative” lifestyle abroad.

The teenager was found near the French city of Toulouse on Wednesday and taken to a police station in the village of Revel by chiropody student Fabien Accidini.

Pictures show Alex lived in a dilapidated cottage with his mum and granddad high up in the foothills of the Pyrenees.

The stone-built property is in the tiny southern French hamlet of Gîte de la Bastide with a population of just 15 people.

The isolated farm, around 40 miles – or an 11-hour walk – from where Alex was picked up, is also believed to be where granddad David died.

It comes as French prosecutor Antoine Leroy revealed that Alex’s grandfather David may have died six months ago.

He added that Alex did not attend his grandfather’s funeral but there was a ceremony held in the community around the time of his death.

Speaking in a press conference on Friday afternoon, 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.”

The prosecutor said Alex had spoken about having to live within the “realm of a community” and was never enrolled in school, but “came across as a normal teenager” and not illiterate or disenfranchised.

Alex walked “exclusively at night” for four days, sleeping during the day to avoid detection, before being found by the delivery driver.

He is said to have been heading to Toulouse in the hopes he could find assistance and return home to his grandmother and legal guardian in the UK.

It is not known whether Alex told his mother that he wanted to leave the community, Leroy said.

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

His mum Melanie and grandfather 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 granddad’s beliefs

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

Alex is expected to return to the UK tomorrow as police continue their search for his mother.

Leroy said the only current investigation into Melanie’s whereabouts is in the UK. There is no international arrest warrant for her.

Melanie and David allegedly abducted Alex in 2017 during a family holiday to Spain then forced him to live in a spiritual sect believed to be based in the foothills of the Pyrenees.

Leroy said: “He had no fixed abode. He was living in a spiritual community with his mother and grandfather.

“He walked for four days and four nights to get away. He walked exclusively at night and slept during the day.”

The teen is expected to fly to Manchester tomorrow before returning to the home of his grandmother, Susan Caruana, in Oldham.

A French police source explained: “She is his legal guardian, and the case is now in the hands of Manchester police.

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

Susan said she couldn’t wait to be reunited with Alex and described his impending return as “amazing”.

She added: “It’s an incredible story. It’s unbelievable after all these years. I’m in shock. I can’t believe it. I have spoken to him and he’s well, that’s all I can say for now.

“I’m desperate to see him over the weekend but I don’t know what’s happening. I’m waiting for the authorities to let me know. It’s been all over the news. It’s breathtaking, and I’m over the moon. I just can’t believe it.”

Susan continued: “I cannot begin to express my relief and happiness that Alex has been found safe and well.

“I spoke with him last night and it was so good to hear his voice and see his face again. I can’t wait to see him when we’re reunited.

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

“I would ask that our family are given privacy as we welcome Alex back, so we can make this process as comforting as possible.”

The boy has so far refused to say where his mother is, according to a prosecuting source in Toulouse, but Susan said she believed Melanie and David were seeking an alternative lifestyle.

Relative Stephen Devine, a cousin of Alex’s mum, told The Sun: “Alex’s mum was involved in a cult.

“His grandma became his guardian but then his mum … 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.”

A spokesman for Greater Manchester Police said: “This is a complex and long-running investigation, and we need to make further enquiries as well as putting appropriate safeguarding measures in place.”

And a UK Foreign Office spokesman said: “We are supporting a British national in France and are in contact with local authorities.”

Doug SeeburgThe stone-built property is in the southern French hamlet of Gîte de la Bastide[/caption]

Doug SeeburgMelanie and David allegedly abducted Alex and forced him to live in a spiritual sect[/caption]

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

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


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