Alex Batty, the missing British boy who was found last week walking alone near the French city of Toulouse, has officially told his story — and made corrections to his own earlier statements.
Alex, who is now 17, went missing after a planned trip to Spain with his mother and grandfather in 2017 when he was 11 years old. Neither adult was his legal guardian at the time. This week, Alex returned to live with his grandmother in the U.K., as she was his legal guardian before his disappearance.
On Thursday, Alex told the British tabloid newspaper The Sun that he, his mother and his grandfather had been living a nomadic lifestyle in Spain for the six years he was missing.
He said he decided to leave his family members and their lifestyle behind in pursuit of a better, brighter future.
Alex said his mother and grandfather abducted him because they thought they were doing the right thing.
The teen described his mother, Melanie Batty, as “very anti-government, anti-vax.”
“She was worried that if I were to go back to a country and get my ID I would be put into care,” Alex told the outlet. “Her catchphrase was becoming a ‘slave to the system.’”
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In the six years he was missing, Alex never attended school.
The family often moved from residence to residence in Europe, never staying longer than a few months. The family, including Alex, would work odd jobs for their food and rent.
“She’s a great person and I love her but she’s just not a great mom,” Alex said. “I know it came from love. I know it came from a place of protection.”
Alex packed up his belongings and left his mother in the middle of the night without any warning. He told The Sun that he left her a note that said he loved her and not to “worry about me.”
“I love you very much. Don’t be too mad with me,” the letter concluded.
Alex was discovered by delivery driver and French student Fabien Accidini on Dec. 3 while walking alongside a road in southern France around 3 a.m. local time. Accidini offered Alex a ride, listened to his story, then brought the now-teen to local police.
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Alex originally told police in France he’d been walking for four days. Since then, he told The Sun he’d actually walked for 22 miles (over 35 kilometres) across two days in the French Pyrenees. He’d been trying to reach the nearest city, Toulouse.
Alex said he lied to authorities over fears his mother and grandfather, David Batty, would be arrested for child abduction. He came clean to the outlet because he realized they’re “probably gonna get caught anyway.”
He said the first few years in Spain after his disappearance was like a “vacation.” However, when he turned 14, he said he was made to pull his own weight.
The teen said he helped buy food and pay rent by performing various jobs, including construction and demolition work.
“I had a nonexistent social life,” he explained, adding that he only met only one friend in six years, a young Spanish girl he met in a cafe.
Alex said it feels “surreal” to be back in the U.K. He said he struggles to talk to people now after being “isolated” for so long.
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Alex wanted his mother and grandfather to know he is “very happy” in England. In a message to them, he assured his family members that he is capable of taking care of himself.
He dreams of one day becoming a computer software engineer or working in a similar, technological field.
Last week, French authorities said Alex’s mother may be in Finland. On Friday, British police launched a criminal investigation into Alex’s disappearance.
© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
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