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New details emerge about Alex Batty, U.K. teen found in France after vanishing 6 years ago: "I want to come home"

U.K. police: Alex Batty found "safe and well"
Alex Batty, U.K. teen missing for 6 years, found alive in France, police announce 01:49

Alex Batty has reportedly messaged his grandmother "I want to come home," as new details are emerging about the British teenager who was found in France this week after going missing six years ago in Spain. 

Batty, now 17, was spotted in Revel, a town not far from Toulouse, France, by a concerned motorist, according to the BBC. The Associated Press reported that Batty had looked lost and haggard along the side of a road. Batty told the driver that he had been living in an alternative community with his mother and left out of a desire to live his own life. 

An undated still image shows Alex Batty, British boy missing since 2017 found in France
An undated still image shows Alex Batty. Greater Manchester Police

Batty's identity was confirmed by other family members, according to the BBC, and Greater Manchester Police confimed that the teen had formally been identified Thursday evening.

"Our main priority now is to see Alex returned home to his family in the U.K. and our investigation team has been working around the clock with partner agencies to ensure they are fully supported," Assistant Chief Constable Chris Sykes said Friday.

A criminal investigation into Batty's disappearance, led by British officials, is ongoing. 

Batty's mother and grandfather lived a nomadic lifestyle 

Batty was 11 years old when he went on vacation with his mother and grandfather in Spain, the BBC reported. Neither had parental guardianship of the teen, and they remain wanted in his disappearance, the BBC said Thursday

French prosecutor Antoine Leroy said in a news conference in Toulouse on Friday that his mother, Melanie Batty, is believed to have left the country for Finland, according to the Associated Press.

Leroy said that Batty's grandfather, David Batty, is believed to have died about six months ago. 

Leroy said that the Batty trio seemed to live a nomadic life, moving frequently from place to place and traveling with solar panels. Leroy said that the family lived in Morocco before moving to France. 

This lifestyle appears to have led to Batty's decision to leave. Leroy said that the teenager did not want to follow his mother to Finland, instead walking for four days in southwest France before being picked up by the motorist. 

The prosecutor's office told the BBC that Batty has not said where his mother went or where he had been living before he was found. 

British teenager gone missing in 2017 found in France
Deputy prosecutor Antoine Leroy speaks during a press conference on Friday. STEPHANE MAHE / REUTERS

The motorist who picked up Batty didn't know who he was 

The man who picked up Batty was identified as delivery driver Fabian Accidini, according to the BBC. Accidini told the Associated Press that he saw Batty in the early hours of the morning. 

"I said to myself, 'That's strange. It's 3 am in the morning, it's raining, he's all by himself on the road between two villages," Accidini told the Associated Press. The AP reported that Batty was carrying a rucksack, flashlight and skateboard. 

Batty told Accidini that he had been walking for four days.  

"I typed his name into the internet and saw that he was being looked for," he told the BBC. 

Accidini said that Batty had planned to travel to a large city and find an embassy to ask for help.

British teenager gone missing in 2017 found in France
A view shows the French road where Alex Batty was picked up.  STEPHANE MAHE / REUTERS

Batty contacted his grandmother after he was found 

The BBC reported that Batty used Accidini's Facebook account to contact his grandmother, Susan Caruana, after being picked up. 

He wrote "Hello Grandma, it's me Alex. I'm in France Toulouse. I really hope that you receive this message. I love you, I want to come home," according to the BBC. 

The BBC reported that Caruana is Batty's legal guardian. She is reportedly too frail to travel to France, but the Associated Press reported that she has spoken to Batty via video call. 

Caruana has previously said that she believed Batty's mother and grandfather had taken him to live a nomadic lifestyle, telling the BBC in a 2018 interview that she believed the pair had brought him to live in a spiritual community in Morocco. 

Batty remains in France 

The BBC reported that Batty is at a young person's center in Toulouse and "may return to the UK later with police and consular officials." The BBC reported that he is expected to be picked up by a team of British police officers and counselor staff. 

A spokesperson from the Toulouse public prosecution office told Reuters that the teen would "soon be returning to England." 

The Greater Manchester Police said that there are "further checks to do" when Batty returns to the U.K. 

"Alex and his family remain our focus – and we still have some work to do in establishing the full circumstances surrounding his disappearance and where he has been," Assistant Chief Constable Sykes said. "I can only imagine the emotions they have experienced throughout this ordeal. I would ask that they be granted privacy as they come to terms with what has happened and as they try to find a way to move forwards with their lives together."

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