The missing boy who was found after six years has given an interview to share details on how he escaped.
Alex Batty went missing aged 11 during a holiday to Spain in September 2017 with his mum Melanie and his grandfather David Batty.
He was last seen on October 8 at the Port of Malaga, the day they were expected to come back to the UK.
2,269 days later, Batty – now 17 – has returned to the UK and has given an interview to share how he made his way back to British soil.
In an interview with The Sun, Batty revealed that he walked out on his mum and grandfather after an argument – which resulted in him walking 22 miles over two days before a delivery driver spotted him and stopped.
During his six years away from the UK, he travelled all across Europe and most recently was residing at a farmhouse in the French Pyrenees with his mum and grandfather.
Batty also never went to school and instead learnt languages, maths and computing from a textbook.
“I first started thinking about leaving when I was 14 or 15,” he revealed.
“I realised it wasn’t a great way to live for my future… 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.”
Batty then shared how his mum was always against the idea of him returning to the UK as she was apparently anti-government and 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,” he continued. “Her catchphrase was becoming a ‘slave to the system’.”
While his mum was dismissive, he did state that his granddad was much more encouraging and only ever wanted what was best for Batty – including making sure that he and his mum were healthy and had a roof over their heads.
At around midnight on Monday, December 11 with his mum in bed, Batty left the property with a rucksack he filled with four T-shirts, three pairs of trousers, socks, pants, a skateboard, a torch, 100 euros and a Swiss Army Knife.
His goal was to reach Toulouse – the nearest city that was 70 miles north.
However, he wanted to ensure that his mum and grandad were not tracked down by police as they could be potentially arrested on suspicion of child abduction.
So he invented an alias – Zack Edwards – and a story about walking for four days through the mountains to put cops off the scent.
“I’ve been lying to try and protect my mum and grandad but I realise that they’re probably gonna get caught anyway,” he confessed.
“I pretended I had been on such a long journey for that reason.”
By the time he had arrived at the first town – Quinlan – the youngster had slept, freezing, in the woodlands and had to use leaves and grass if he needed to use a toilet.
But once he got to the town, he refuelled with a baguette and waited there until 6pm, just in case his mum spotted him.
He then shared the moment that he got picked up by a delivery driver – who had spotted him at three in the morning with a skateboard in the pouring rain.
Batty recalled: “I was so knackered when the delivery driver picked me up I just blurted out a story.
“I wasn’t even hitchhiking when he picked me up. I was walking across a little bridge. He said he stopped because he saw I had a skateboard. It was pouring rain and pitch black as it was 3am.
“I told him my story and I don’t think he actually believed me so he just carried on with his work.
“He was delivering parcels so I helped him because it’s the least I could do. He let me use his phone to contact my grandma [Susan].”
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The delivery driver then phoned the police who took him to the nearest station, where he was able to shower and relax while they updated his grandma on his whereabouts.
He then spent a couple of nights in a foster home before getting the news that he could return to the UK.
Batty shared: “On Friday they told me I could fly home without a passport and on Saturday I got to Toulouse airport and my other grandad was waiting for me with two police officers and my social worker.
“I was so happy to see him I gave him a big hug.”
He boarded a flight to Amsterdam and then a connecting flight to Manchester and was escorted by police to his gran’s house – who has since been ruled to take care of him until he turns 18.
“I started shaking and just gave her a massive hug,” Batty said.
“The house is different now but still feels the same. The biggest difference is when I left I was a boy but now I’m 6ft so I’m too big for the bed. It feels great to be back. I have got a lot of help from social services and the police and want to go to college.
“I understand a lot of French so I’m not going to let that go. I’m going to keep on studying.”
Regarding what’s next, Batty said that he wants to work with computers – maybe computer science or cyber security.