A plane carrying Alex Batty has safely landed back in the UK, six years after his disappearance
Teenager Alex Batty, who disappeared on holiday in Spain with his mother and grandfather six years ago, has returned to the UK.
The teenager, who was 11 when he went missing and is now 17, met his step-grandfather at Toulouse airport earlier on Saturday before flying back to the UK, Assistant Chief Constable Matt Boyle told reporters at a Greater Manchester Police press conference.
Police have yet to establish whether a criminal investigation will be opened into the disappearance of Alex.
“It gives me great pleasure to say Alex has now made his safe return back to the UK after six years,” said Constable Boyle.
“Earlier today, Alex met with a family member alongside Greater Manchester Police officers at Toulouse airport before heading back to the UK.
‘He may now be six years older than when he went missing, but he is still a young person,’ Assistant Chief Constable Matt Boyle told reporters on Saturday
“This moment was undoubtedly huge for him and his loved ones, and we are glad that they have been able to see each other again after all this time.
“Speaking with him (Alex) at a pace that feels comfortable to him will ultimately determine how this case is progressed, and whether there is a criminal investigation to ensue.
“Our continued focus is supporting Alex and his family, in partnership with other local agencies – to ensure that they are safe, their wellbeing is looked after, and his re-integration with society is as easy as possible.
“We are yet to fully establish the circumstances surrounding his disappearance, but no matter what, we understand that this may be an overwhelming process.
“He may now be six years older than when he went missing, but he is still a young person.”
Alex was found on Wednesday, December 13, by chiropody student Fabien Accidini while walking alone near Toulouse in the early hours of Wednesday.
Greater Manchester Police will not comment “at this time” on what Alex was doing while abroad, as the force has not yet received a statement from the teenager.
Assistant Chief Constable Matt Boyle continued: “We are aware the French authorities disclosed detailed information yesterday during their press conference relating to what Alex may have been doing and where he has been over his years missing.
“Greater Manchester Police are yet to obtain any formal statement from Alex and therefore we cannot comment at this time.”
His grandmother and legal guardian Susan Caruana previously said she “can’t wait” to see him when he returns.
Ms Caruana, from Oldham, Greater Manchester, added on Friday: “I cannot begin to express my relief and happiness that Alex has been found safe and well.
“I spoke with him last night and it was so good to hear his voice and see his face again. I can’t wait to see him when we’re reunited.
“The main thing is that he’s safe, after what would be an overwhelming experience for anyone, not least a child.
“I would ask that our family are given privacy as we welcome Alex back, so we can make this process as comforting as possible.”
It is thought Alex had been living an “alternative” lifestyle with his mother and grandfather across Spain, Morocco and France while he was missing.
Mr Accidini said the teenager told him he had been hiking in nearby mountains for more than four days in an attempt to return to England.
On Friday, French prosecutors said the teenager’s mother, Melanie Batty, who is wanted in connection with his disappearance, may be in Finland, while his grandfather David Batty has died.
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.
On the whereabouts of Alex’s mother and grandfather, Mr Leroy said: “It is possible that the mother at this time has in fact gone to Finland, as she planned.
“The grandfather, who has always been with his daughter and grandson, is said to have died approximately six months ago.”
Alex was described as “tired” but “in good health” after being checked over by French officials and seemed “intelligent” even though he had not attended school for six years.
The prosecutor also said the boy did not appear to have been subjected to any physical violence.
Greater Manchester Police said Alex had been “well cared for” by the French authorities and had a video call with his grandmother on Thursday.
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