Tue. Jul 23rd, 2024

MISSING English teenager Alex Batty tried to enrol in a school in France last month but nobody worked out who he was and police took no action, French media has claimed.

The 17-year-old was officially being searched for everywhere after spending the last six years living in a “nomadic spiritual community” with his mother.

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

PA:Press AssociationHe was on holiday with his mum Melanie (pictured) but never returned to the UK[/caption]

Melanie Batty, 48, allegedly kidnapped him when he was just 11 and officially under the guardianship of his grandmother, Susan Caruana, 68, from Oldham, Greater Manchester.

Alex finally handed himself over to gendarmes last week after claiming he spent four days walking across countryside.

He told a delivery driver who found him walking along the side of a rural road in south west France on Wednesday: “I need a future”.

But on Saturday French newspaper La Depeche reported that Alex in fact tried to “enrol in a school” in the town of Quillan in November.

He could not provide any identity papers, so teachers contacted police about the British teenager, who spoke little French.

“The gendarmes tried to contact the English authorities,” said an investigating source, but “there was a hiccup which did not allow the report to be followed up.

“Collaboration [between the French and the British] did not make it possible to establish a link between the presence of Alex Batty in Quillan and his disappearance notice issued seven years earlier in England.”

The slip-up shows how far away combined police forces working through the international crime agency Interpol were from finding the vulnerable boy.

Antoine Leroy, the Toulouse deputy prosecutor, said Alex was finally expected to make an emotional return home to Oldham “this weekend”.

On Saturday he was still in the care of French social services, as gendarmes tried to find his mother.

She was with his late grandfather, David Batty, when Alex went missing on a week-long family holiday to Spain in 2017.

They embarked on a travelling lifestyle, which did not involve a formal education for Alex.

With his 18th birthday approaching in March, he had no passport or permanent address, let alone any qualifications.

“When his mother indicated that she was going to leave with him to Finland, this young man understood that this had to stop,” Mr Leroy said.

“So then he decided to leave the place where he was with his mother and walked for four days and four nights.”

Assistant Chief Constable Chris Sykes, of Greater Manchester Police, said: “We are relieved and overjoyed to receive the news from French authorities that Alex Batty has been found safe and well.”

Speaking from her home in Oldham, Ms Caruana said she could not wait to be reunited with Alex.

“It’s amazing. It’s an incredible story,” she said.

“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.”

Consular officials are also liaising with the French authorities, after Alex produced a long statement to gendarmes.

Sky NewsFrench student and lorry driver Fabien Accidini found Alex Batty after him walking alone at night and offered him a lift[/caption]

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