Fri. Jul 19th, 2024

The owners of a French guesthouse have revealed missing British teenager Alex Batty spent recent years staying with them under a fake name without his mother.

Frederic Hambye and Ingrid Beauve said the teenager first arrived at their traditional gite farmhouse in late 2021 and had stayed with them on-and-off ever since.

The couple said they considered him “part of our family” and disclosed he had recently told them he aimed to return to the UK to go to school and live a normal life.

The revelation is the latest piece of the puzzle in solving the mystery of where Alex has been for the last six years.

He was 11 when went on holiday in 2017 with his mother Melanie Batty – who does not have legal parental guardianship – and his grandfather David Batty but never returned.

Alex, now 17, was found on Wednesday after a delivery driver offered him a lift near Toulouse.

This weekend he was reunited with family back in the UK – thought to include his grandmother and legal guardian Susan Caruana.

Fred and Ingrid, owners of the French farmhouse

On Sunday Mr Hambye and Ms Beauve issued a statement confirming they had taken Alex under their wing in recent years – but that they did not know his true identity and were told his name was “Zach”.

They said the teenager was accompanied by his mother and grandfather when he first came to their guesthouse in Camps-sur-l’Agly, southern France, two years ago.

The couple said his mother did not stay as she was “looking for a place to live” in a spiritual community, but they agreed to give the teenager accommodation in exchange for him doing chores in their garden and kitchen – and noted he “loved to cook”.

“He stayed with us for some longer or shorter periods. He left several times to join his mother in her successive places of residence between Aude and Ariege,” Mr Hambye and Ms Beauve said.

The couple said he was keen to participate in “the life of the gite,” and got on well with their children as he joined them in activities such as cycling and trips to the beach.

Read more:
Alex fled ‘because mum wanted to take him to Finland’
What really happened after he vanished?
Man who found him says Alex ‘wants to live normal life’

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Delivery driver recalls rescuing Alex Batty

The couple said “Zach” last came back to stay with them in the summer and “as time went on we saw him as part of our family and we think he appreciated the stability and security we represented for him”.

They added the teenager had a room to himself with unlimited internet access and was “completely free to come and go as he pleased”.

Mr Hambye and Ms Beauve said they encouraged him to learn French and study, and helped him “find a school where he could be admitted without prior education”, while also noting that he showed an aptitude for computers.

But the couple said he told them he was eager to to go to school and “get back a normal life” but did not have any identification paperwork that would allow him to get back to Britain.

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Missing British teenager ‘fled from mother’

The gite owners said they offered to drive him to the British consulate to help him get ID, but he said he would “find a way to return to the UK on his own to get new papers”.

The last they heard he had left to “join his mother”. “We reiterated to him that he would always be welcome and that if needed, we were there to help him”.

The whereabouts of Alex’s mother is not known, although French prosecutors believe she could be in Finland.

Meanwhile his grandfather is thought to have died around six months ago.

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The post Missing Alex Batty ‘had been staying in French guesthouse without his mother’ appeared first on WorldNewsEra.


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