A 17-year-old British boy was found safe in France this week, six years after being taken by his mother, and recently ran away from her because she wanted to move them to Finland, according to a report.
In 2017, Alex Batty went on a two-week trip to Spain with his grandfather and mother, Melanie Batty — who didn’t have legal custody of him and allegedly abducted him — but the trio failed to return to the U.K. at the time.
Alex said after they went off-the-grid, they were constantly moving, including living in Morocco and the French Pyrenees, which is known for people who seek out alternative lifestyles, with a group of around 10 “spiritual” people.
Alex said he finally ran away from his mother because he wanted to go back to his life in the U.K., BBC News reported.
His grandmother, Susan Caruana, allowed the boy to go on the two-week trip to Spain with his mother and grandfather in 2017, but when they failed to return home, she sounded the alarm, fearing they had kidnapped him.
In interviews at the time, Caruana said she believed her daughter and ex-husband had taken the boy abroad to live an “alternative lifestyle” and that they didn’t want him going to “mainstream school.”
Alex, who was 11 when he first went missing, was found Wednesday in southwestern France by a driver, and is expected to return to his family in the U.K. by Sunday, BBC reported.
Alex reportedly told French officials he had not had any formal education while traveling with his mother.
His mother’s whereabouts are still unknown, while his grandfather is believed to have died six months ago.
His U.K. family is “massively relieved” and highly emotional about Batty’s rescue, the Greater Manchester Police said.
“I think I speak on behalf of the whole of Greater Manchester Police when I say we were relieved and overjoyed to receive news from the French Authorities that they believe Alex Batty had been located safe and well, more than 6 years after his disappearance,” Greater Manchester Police Assistant Chief Constable Chris Sykes said in a statement. “This is a huge moment for Alex, for his family and for the community in Oldham.”
Sykes said that while his grandmother is positive it’s him, there will be further checks when he is brought back to the U.K.
His grandmother said in a statement released by the police: “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.”
She added, “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.”
Toulouse Assistant Public Prosecutor Antoine Leroy told reporters, according to the BBC, “When his mother indicated that she was going to leave with him to Finland, this young man understood that this had to stop” and it was time to “get his life back in the U.K.”
Leroy said Alex walked during the night and slept during the day for four days after leaving his mother until he met a delivery driver who offered him a ride.
After the driver let Alex use his phone, the BBC reported he called his grandmother and said, “Hello Grandma, it’s me Alex. I’m in France — Toulouse. I really hope that you receive this message. I love you, I want to come home.”
Fox News Digital has reached out to the Greater Manchester Police for further comment.