A British teenager who went missing six years ago and was found this week in France is set to be reunited with his family in the United Kingdom.
Alex Batty, who was “abducted” by his mother at the age of 11, will be repatriated on Saturday, a prosecutor in Toulouse told the AFP news agency.
He will take off for London from the southern French city “accompanied by several British police officers”, said magistrate Antoine Leroy.
Batty will be returned to his maternal grandmother, with whom the British justice system entrusted his custody before he disappeared in 2017 during a holiday with his mother and grandfather in Malaga, Spain.
Toulouse deputy prosecutor Antoine Leroy said on Friday the youth had spent the past two years in different areas of southern France, living in “spiritual communities” with his mother, never staying more than several months in the same place.
The grandfather died about six months ago, said Leroy, adding that the boy’s mother might currently be in Finland.
The teen was found in the middle of the night by a delivery driver after he had escaped and had been along a road for four days, Leroy said at a news conference on Friday evening.
Greater Manchester Police GMP earlier said they were working with French authorities to bring Batty home to his grandmother.
France’s BFM TV has reported a search operation was under way to find Batty’s mother.
Six years ago, Batty’s mother and grandfather took him on what was meant to be a two-week family holiday in Spain.
Instead, it turned out to be a six-year odyssey through Morocco, Spain and southwest France, living an off-the-grid life.
Now 17 years old, Batty told French investigators that he, his mother and her father had moved from house to house, carrying their own solar panels, growing their own food, living with other families, meditating and contemplating reincarnation and other esoteric subjects.
“It was a nomadic life,” police officer Lea Chambonnière said at the news conference in Toulouse.
“The only constants, the only things they carried with them, were the solar panels and their vegetable plants.”
Batty reappeared on Wednesday, when a delivery driver found him walking alone on a remote French road and delivered him to the French police.
“When his mother indicated that she intended to leave for Finland with him, this young man understood that this journey had to stop,” Leroy, the prosecutor, said.
“He was never locked up,” he added. “But he was always obliged to live in these conditions.”
I cannot begin to express my relief and happiness that Alex has been found safe and well,” the teen’s grandmother, Susan Caruana, said in a statement released by British police.
She said they spoke by video call and “it was so good to hear his voice and see his face again”.
“I can’t wait to see him.”
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