French police have been the subject of outrage as it was revealed officials failed to seize the opportunity to return abducted Alex Batty to Britain when he attempted to register at a school in southwest France last month.
When the youngster, who lived with his grandfather in a remote farmhouse, couldn’t produce any identification documents, he was escorted to the Gendarmerie in Quillan, the nearest town.
According to regional newspaper La Depeche Du Midi, the oversight was caused by a ‘glitch’ between French and British authorities, which prevented the teenager from being identified as the target of an international manhunt.
La Depeche Du Midi stated: “According to our sources, the young man of 17 years should have been the subject of an investigation in the month of November. His presence was established in the district of Quillan, in the department of Aude, at that time.
“Alex Batty wanted to enroll in a school in the town to take [eductional] courses.”
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“[But] Having no identity document on him, the young Englishman was entrusted to the police. The [French] police apparently tried to contact the British authorities.
“[But] It was then, according to our information, there was a ‘glitch’ which did not allow the report to be followed up. The collaboration would have made it possible to establish a link between the presence of Alex Batty in Quillan and the [Greater Manchester Police] missing persons alert seven years earlier in England.”
Alex was reported missing in October 2017 by his grandmother, Susan Caruana, who serves as his legal guardian. He hadn’t returned home from a vacation near Marbella with his mother, Melanie Batty then 37, and grandfather, David Batty 58.
Susan Caruana told the BBC that she suspected his mother and grandfather had moved him to Morocco to live with a spiritual community. She explained that they were living an alternative lifestyle and were hesitant to send Alex to school.
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Alex Batty is set to return to the UK this weekend. His grandmother, who is also his legal guardian, expressed her excitement, saying she “can’t wait to see him.”
Alex was discovered trekking across the Pyrenees mountains by Fabien Accidini, a French student. Since then, the teenager has told police that his nomadic lifestyle “had to come to an end.”
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