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Alex Batty reveals he made up four day mountain trek to throw police off the scent of his mother and grandfather
22 December 2023, 09:23
Alex Batty has said that he made up the story a sensational four-day hike through the Pyrenees in order to throw police off the scent of his mother and grandfather.
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Alex, 17, returned to the UK last week, six years after he went missing while on holiday in Spain with his mother and grandfather, and is living with his grandmother, Susan Caruana.
It was widely reported that Alex had trekked for four days through the mountains, after he told the story to a delivery driver.
But he has since changed his story, claiming that he made up the Pyrenees hike in order to cover for his mother and grandfather, so that the police would have a harder time tracking them down.
He said: "I’ve been lying to try and protect my mum and grandad but I realise that they’re probably gonna get caught anyway.
"I pretended I had been on such a long journey for that reason."
Speaking for the first time since he returned to the UK on Saturday, the teenager said he "grew tired" of working alongside his grandad in exchange for food and rent, so he decided to make a break for it and left the community, he told the Sun.
He maintains that he walked for 22 miles after leaving the farmhouse he was living in with his mother. He walked south towards the town of Quillan, before spending a night outside, and drinking from springs.
He then ate a tuna baguette and waited out the day in Quillan before leaving the town at 6pm, because he was worried his mother would see him in her car.
Alex was picked up by the delivery driver at 3am, and was then taken into the authorities - but only after helping the man make his deliveries.
Among the other revelations that Alex made, he also said that his grandad is actually alive, despite reports that he had died.
"I know he’s not passed away but I don’t know where he is because he was just moving around," he said.
Alex told the publication that the final straw came after he had an argument with his mum, Melanie.
He also wrote his mother a note as he left. He told her: "You know I can take care of myself.
"I love you very much. Don't be too mad with me."
Alex said he first started thinking about leaving two or three years ago, when he was 14 or 15.
He said: “I realised it wasn’t a great way to live for my future. The cloud had lifted because I started weighing everything up again — the pros and cons of 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.
"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.
"It would always be the same whether it was France or Spain. 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.
“My mum was against the idea. 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. Her catchphrase was becoming a ‘slave to the system’.
“She wasn’t really open to any other opinions whereas grandad is more of a listener.
“He was always like, ‘I want you to do what’s best for you’.
“He kept on saying every time, the reason I came with you, is so that I could make sure that you were happy and healthy with a roof over your head.”
It comes after it emerged that the British teenager will be granted special legal protection as he restarts his life in the UK six years after disappearing while on holiday in Spain.
Alex has been "fearful of the glare of publicity" since he returned to live with his grandmother, a court was told on Thursday.
High Court judges will act as Alex's legal guardian as his grandmother Susan continues to look after him until he turns 18 in a few months time.
Judge Singleton said: "It seems to me that it would makes something of a non-sense of the media's attendance if the identity of the young person was not included with what could be reported, because, to use more casual speech, it's out there already.
"Alex is, perhaps entirely understandably some-what fearful of the glare of publicity around his circumstances.
"There is, it seems to me, to be a legitimate public interest in reporting the outcome of a difficult set of circumstances of a young person.
"He is being supported by his maternal grandmother and Oldham Council to resume a normal life, here."
Meanwhile, it has also emerged that Alex's mother is thought to have fled to Spain, days after the British boy reappeared having gone missing for six years.
Melanie is believed to have gone over the border from southern France along with her father, David, who may not be dead as previously thought.
She is reported to have taken her son around Spain and Morocco before settling in France under the name "Rose" as she pursued a "spiritual" life and hoped to set up an alternative community.
Alex was given the pseudonym Zac, while David appeared to use the name Peter.
French police believe David died recently and Melanie had gone to Finland - with Alex revealing he left and hiked four days over the Pyrenees before being picked up after she wanted to go there.
A friend suggested she wanted to "to get away from the attention" after Alex left.
They told the Mail: "Rose, as we knew Melanie, has fled. She's long gone. She's gone to Spain.
"I think [her father] Peter has gone with her. She wanted to get away from all the attention.
"Rose, her dad and Zac are a nice family but always a bit cautious.
"I don't know the full extent of their story, but it was not for nothing that they fled Britain.
"Rose [said she] took her son out of a bad situation and protected him as much as she could for as long as she could.
"She would mention odd things about her past. She said the life they were living in England before was hell."
Alex, then 11, disappeared on a family holiday to Spain with Melanie and David in 2017.
But he dramatically remerged this month when a French delivery driver picked him up in the Aude region and took him to Toulouse.
Police said they planned to speak to Alex about what happened but wanted to ensure his reintegration with society is as "easy as possible".