Alex Batty, now 17 years old, had been missing since 2017, when he disappeared during a trip to Spain with his mother and grandfather.
A 17-year-old British boy who had gone missing six years ago during a trip to Spain has been found in France.
The prosecutor’s office in the city of Toulouse, France, said that the boy, Alex Batty, is at a young person’s centre in the city and would be back in the UK within the day.
Batty had been missing since 2017, when he was on holiday with his mother and his grandfather, who are believed to be involved in his disappearance. The two have no parental guardianship of the boy and have not yet been located.
The 17-year-old boy was spotted by motorists in the early hours of Wednesday morning as he was walking through the rain near Toulouse.
He told motorists and police officers that he had been in France for two years, travelling from place to place with an itinerant commune embracing an alternative lifestyle. He said he had left because he missed his loved ones in the UK.
The boy has expressed the wish to go home, using one of the motorists’ phones to write to his grandmother, his legal guardian: “I love you, I want to come home.”
His grandmother and legal guardian Susan Caruana told the BBC in 2018 that she believed Batty’s mother and grandfather had taken the child to live in a spiritual community in Morocco as at the time they were seeking alternative lifestyles and did not want the boy to go to school.
“We are waiting for the grandmother to come and get him. We are waiting to set up repatriation with the British,” said the public prosecutor in Toulouse, Samuel Vuelta-Simon.
“We are in contact, of course, with the British police. We are in close contact with them to organise this repatriation,” Vuelta-Simon said.
Police in Greater Manchester, in the northwest of England, where the teenager comes from, said in a statement on Thursday that they were in contact with the French authorities to obtain details.
“This is a complex and lengthy search. Further investigations are necessary,” said a spokesperson for Greater Manchester Police.