Alex Batty – who was missing for six years before being reunited with his grandmother in Oldham – has revealed he wanted to return home to have a better future.
Now 17, he said in an interview that he left his mother and grandfather in France after realising he could no longer live with them. Alex also revealed he wants to go to college to study computing.
The interview comes after a court heard he’s had no formal schooling since he went missing in 2017 aged 11 and that he is being urged to resume his education.
Alex was reported missing after he went on holiday to Marbella, Spain, with mum Melanie Batty and grandfather, David Batty. French prosecutors said in a news conference last week that he was then taken to live in a ‘spiritual community’, living in Morocco for two years and later the French Pyrenees.
The teenager was discovered on Wednesday last week on a rural road near Quillan, France, where he was picked up by a part-time delivery driver. He offered Alex, who used the name Zach in France, a lift, before discovering his real identity and taking him to a police station.
A family court judge took the unusual step on Thursday of lifting restrictions to allow the press to report Alex is a ‘ward of court’ until he turns 18. It means the teen’s effective guardian will continue to be his grandmother, Susan Caruana, until his next birthday.
Interviewed for the first time by The Sun newspaper, the 17-year-old said he realised he could no longer live with his “anti-government, anti-vax” mother after an argument.
He said he had become fed up of his nomadic lifestyle with “no friends and “no social life”. Alex did not return from a pre-arranged trip there when he was 11 and is said to have lived an “alternative” lifestyle abroad before deciding to return home.
He was picked up by chiropody student Fabien Accidini near the French city of Toulouse in the early hours of last Wednesday.
Speaking about his mother, Melanie Batty, in an interview with the paper, he said: “She’s a great person and I love her but she’s just not a great mum. I had an argument with my mum and I just thought I’m gonna leave because I can’t live with her.”
The teenager said his mother was “anti-government, anti-vax” whose catchphrase was “becoming a slave to the system”.
“I realised it wasn’t a great way to live for my future,” he continued.
“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.”
After being looked after by the French authorities, Alex met his step-grandfather at Toulouse airport on Saturday before boarding a flight back to the UK, Greater Manchester Police said.
He can now look forward to spending time with family members, friends and others he grew up with in Oldham, where he was living as a young boy before he disappeared and police say is “where he wants to be”.
It is thought Alex had been living with his mother and grandfather, who had taken him on the trip to Spain in September 2017 – across Spain, Morocco and France while he was missing.
Last week, French prosecutors said the teenager’s mother, Melanie Batty – who does not have legal parental guardianship, may be in Finland. Antoine Leroy told reporters Alex had said he knew his way of life with his mother “had to stop” after she announced an intention to move to Finland.
This led him to walk for “four days and four nights” across the Pyrenees, the prosecutor said.