Missing teen Alex Batty issues statement after returning to UK

Alex Batty says ‘I’m glad to be here for Christmas’ as he makes first statement since reuniting with his family in England after he was missing for more than six years

A British teenager who was missing for more than six years has spoken out for the first time since returning to the UK. 

Alex Batty, 17, said ‘I’m glad to be here for Christmas’ as he broke his silence. 

The teenager was found in France last week and spent his first night back in Britain on Saturday.

Alex landed in Manchester, walking off the plane with a skateboard under his arm before being promptly whisked away to meet his grandmother, Susan Caruana, whom it is understood he will live with.

It was the welcome end of a long journey for Alex, who was found on Wednesday after escaping a ‘nomadic’ life in a commune in the French Pyrenees, according to French authorities, years after he failed to return from a family holiday in Spain.

The teenager, who vanished when he was 11, is expected to speak with Greater Manchester Police at a later date as they look to piece together the events surrounding his disappearance and years spent living in a ‘spiritual commune’ after allegedly being kidnapped by his mother and grandfather in 2017.

Alex Batty, from Oldham, was 11 when he did not return from a holiday to Spain with his mother Melanie, then 37, and grandfather David, then 58, in 2017. 

Alex (pictured left) with his mother Melanie (centre) and grandfather David (right) six years ago

Alex Batty’s Grandmother Susan Caruana answers her door to reporters at her home in Oldham, Greater Manchester on Friday

In a press conference on Saturday night, Greater Manchester Police explained that they had not yet spoken to Alex about his disappearance or ‘what [he] may have been doing, and where he has been, over his years missing’.

They said that they would support Alex as they look to understand what happened.

‘Speaking with him at a pace that feels comfortable to him we will ultimately determine how this case is progressed and whether there is a criminal investigation to ensure,’ Assistant Chief Constable Matt Boyle said. 

‘Our continued focus is supporting Alex and his family in partnership with other local agencies to ensure they are safe, their wellbeing is looked after, and his reintegration with society is as easy as possible.

‘We are yet to establish the full circumstances surrounding his disappearance, but no matter what, understand that this may be an overwhelming process. 

‘He may now be six years older than when he went missing, but he is still a young person.’

The teenager, who vanished when he was 11, is expected to speak with Greater Manchester Police at a later date

Assistant Chief Constable Matt Boyle speaking to the media about British teenager Alex Batty at Greater Manchester Police Force Headquarters in Manchester, Saturday December 16, 2023

Alex flew to Malaga in September 2017 before being taken to a ‘spiritual community’ in the foothills of the Pyrenees. Investigators believe Alex escaped the rural community in southern France and spent days trekking across the French Pyrenees before being picked up by a trucker who took him to a police station in Revel, near Toulouse

French authorities confirmed that Alex had been ‘accompanied by British police officers’ on a KLM flight via Amsterdam on Saturday.

ACC Boyle said Alex met with a family member alongside Greater Manchester Police at Toulouse Airport before heading back to the UK.

‘This moment was undoubtedly huge for him and his loved ones and we are glad that they have been able to see each other again after all this time.’

Alex’s grandmother shared her ‘relief and happiness’ at the news he had been found after years trying desperately to get in touch. 

‘I spoke with him last night and it was so good to hear his voice and see his face again,’ Ms Caruana said in a statement released by Greater Manchester Police on Friday.

‘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.’

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