Police have launched a probe into the alleged kidnapping of Alex Batty following his return to the UK six years after first going missing.
Greater Manchester Police have interviewed the 17-year-old following his six-year ordeal and are now investigating the alleged abduction.
Alex escaped France last week to return to the England after his mother Melanie Batty and her father David allegedly took him in 2017.
The school boy spent the next six years living a nomadic hippy lifestyle, traveling across Europe with his mother and grandfather.
Earlier this month, Alex made a daring midnight dash to escape – and has now been reunited with his grandmother Susan Caruana, 68, at her family home in Oldham, Greater Manchester.
Alex Batty, from Oldham, was 11 when he did not return from a holiday to Spain
Alex has since returned to the UK and has been interviewed by police in Manchester
Greater Manchester Police has since confirmed it has launched a criminal investigation into his alleged abduction by his mother Melanie Batty, left, and her father David Batty, middle
The news comes as Alex last night broke his silence on his time away and his mother, who he said didn’t want him to be a ‘slave to the system’, forcing him to live a nomadic existence, moving between homes in Europe including a commune in the French Pyrenees mountains.
Alex told The Sun: ‘She’s a good person. But she’s just not a great mum. She just doesn’t do motherly things that you’re supposed to do. She’s not very warm and open.’
British police previously said they would not be able to confirm an investigation into his alleged abduction until they had spoken with him directly.
Alex returned to Oldham, Greater Manchester, last weekend and has since spoke to officers from Greater Manchester Police, The Sun has reported.
The 17-year-old made his escape at midnight on December 11 when his mother, Melanie, 48, was asleep in bed.
He was found by a delivery driver after he had walked for 22 miles over two days, drinking from mountain springs and sleeping in the woods.
Alex had been contemplating escaping since the age of 14 or 15. Eventually he had an argument with his mother and Alex decided he ‘just can’t live with her’ and had to flee.
He said his mother was always ‘against the idea’ of returning to England. ‘She was 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.
Melanie Batty sitting next to her father David Batty and her son Alex Batty (far left) at a market in June 2023
Alex’s mother and alleged kidnapper, 48-year-old Melanie Batty, remains on the run, while her father David – previously reported as having died earlier this year, is in fact alive, according to Alex (pictured right)
Alex Batty (pictured left) with his mother Melanie and grandfather David six years ago
‘Her catchphrase was becoming a “slave to the system”.’
His mother and alleged kidnapper remains on the run. Alex said she had spoken of going to see the Northern Lights in Finland with friends but her whereabouts are unknown.
Recounting his time with her, the youngster added she once left him for seven months with her father while galivanting with friends elsewhere across Europe.
During his time living off the grid, Alex had convinced his mother to move to a rented farmhouse rather than living in the mountains.
He was weary of constantly moving house and working in exchange for food and boarding, and said he only made one friend his own age during his six years away – a Spanish girl he met in a café.
She is said to have forced Alex to live in a ‘spiritual community’ instead of returning to his grandmother, who is his legal guardian.
The teenager added he learned languages by himself and studied maths and computing from textbooks but didn’t attend school.
A tent inside woodland at the ‘Garden of Eden’ ‘spiritual community’ near Chalabre
A sign for L’Eden is pictured close to the spiritual community Alex once stayed at
Alex said he first had doubts about their alternative lifestyle when he was 14 and began considering his goals for the future, telling the Sun it ‘wasn’t a great way to live for my future’ and that he soon started weighing up the ‘pros and cons’ of escaping back to England.
‘I wouldn’t know what was going to happen in my future if I were to stay with my mum, but from the past few years I could get a picture of what life would have been like,’ he told The Sun.
‘Moving around. No friends, no social life. Working, working, work and not studying. That’s the life I imagined I would be leading if I were to stay with my mum.
‘In the mountains, in the middle of nowhere. No people my age. So when I was about 16 I spoke to grandad about going back to England.’
On Thursday it emerged Alex had even tried to enroll at a prestigious IT college in Perpignan, in the South of France, last July.
Teachers at Ecole 42 (School 42) were blown away by his online application, which included passing a computer exam ‘with flying colours’.
However, they became concerned he was using a fake name.
‘He gave his name as Zack Edwards,’ said Marie Payré, the administrative manager of Ecole 42.
‘He told us by email that an airline had lost his identity papers.’
When Alex arrived in Perpignan, ‘we started to have a clue about what was going on,” Ms Payré told the French Bleu radio station.
The Garden of Eden Spiritual community, where Melanie Batty was living
This was when Alex allegedly said: ‘Zack Edwards is just a nickname, my real name is Alex Batty.’
Géro Vigney, the director of Ecole 42, realised his potential student could have been a wanted child, and that his mother was on the run.
Mr Vigney handed over all details to the police, including the address where Alex was staying. But extraordinarily, French cops failed to act on the tip-off – as they were on strike.
Alex escaped on Monday December 11 at around midnight, when his mother was asleep in bed.
But he left a note behind before he set off on his own, begging his mother not to be ‘too mad with me’ and telling her ‘I love you very much’.
He reassured her ‘I’m sure you won’t get found’ before ending the note with ‘Love Alex’.
Carrying only a skateboard and a rucksack filled with clothes and essentials, he set off for the nearest city – Toulouse, 70 miles away.
He packed four T-shirts, three pairs of trousers, socks, pants, a torch, 100 euros and a Swiss Army Knife.
He left a note for his mother, which read: ‘Hey mum, I want you to know I love you very much. I am very thankful for the life that you provided for me over the past few years.
A mock-up of the note Alex Batty left for his mother Melanie before he left for England
Gite de la Bastide in the part of the Pyrenees where teenager Alex was living
‘Don’t worry about yourselves – I’m sure you won’t get found. Don’t worry about me either. You know I can take care of myself.
‘I love you very much. Don’t be too mad with me. Love Alex.’
The teenager was worried about his mother and grandfather being arrested on suspicion of his abduction, so he lied to those he met on the road, making up a story about spending four days walking through the mountains.
The 17-year-old spent his first night sleeping outside in the cold in a woodland, drinking from mountain springs.
When he arrived at the town of Quillan, he bought a tuna baguette to eat. But he waited until 6pm to leave because he was worried his mother might pass in her car.
He said he tried to be ‘clever’ and walked from Quillan back to Chalabre, asking for directions and telling those he met that he was lost.
But he said ‘I knew exactly where I was going’.
The teen added he had been forced to sleep on the ‘freezing’ ground and use leaves or grass when it went to the toilet.
Speaking of his escape bid, Alex said his plan was to travel to Toulouse and ‘get as far away as possible’.
But when he was found by the delivery driver, he was just ‘so knackered’ he ‘just blurted out a story’.
‘I wasn’t even hitchhiking when he picked me up,’ Alex told The Sun. ‘I was walking across a little bridge. He said he stopped because he saw I had a skateboard. It was pouring with rain and pitch black as it was 3am.’
Alex said he was tired of his nomadic lifestyle and wanted to return home to see his gran
Pictured are members of the Garden of Eden spiritual community where Alex once stayed
The distraught teenager said he was ‘in bits on the floor’ when he was brought to the police station, worried he had said too much.
He said the police took his fingerprints ‘about five different times’ and sent photos of him to his grandmother.
From Wednesday to Friday, he spent the night at a foster home, and then he was told he could fly home.
When he arrived at Toulouse airport, his other grandfather was waiting with two police officers and a social worker.
Alex said ‘I was so happy to see him, I gave him a big hug’.
At 5pm, he boarded a flight to Amsterdam and then a connecting flight to Manchester touched down at 8.13pm.
Describing the moment he reunited with his grandmother, he said he was ‘shaking’ and gave her a ‘massive hug’.
He added: ‘The house is different now but still feels the same. The biggest difference is when I left I was a boy but now I’m 6ft so I’m too big for the bed. It feels great to be back.’
In contrast, his grandfather David would always listen to his concerns about their life.
Fondly referring to him as ‘Grandad Batty’ he said David along with his step-father ‘raised’ him and he saw them as father figures.