Off-grid nomadic commune where Alex Batty was kept ‘is cut off & has no schools’ – as family share fears over his return

Off-grid nomadic commune where Alex Batty was kept ‘is cut off & has no schools’ – as family share fears over his return

THE off-grid commune where Alex Batty stayed for the past six years is reportedly completely isolated and without schools as his family shared their fears over the teen’s return.

The boy, now 17, was found alive in France after fleeing the nomadic “spiritual community” in the mountains on foot.

Greater Manchester PoliceThe ‘spiritual community’ where Alex Batty stayed with his mum and granddad reportedly has no schools[/caption]

PA:Press AssociationThe boy, then 11, was on holiday with his mum Melanie (pictured) in 2017 but never returned to the UK[/caption]

SkyLorry driver Fabien Accidini said he spotted the teenager on Wednesday[/caption]

Alex, then 11, was travelling in Spain with his mum and grandad in 2017 when he vanished without a trace.

He was found alive and well on Thursday after hiking through the Pyrenees mountains for days to escape the “spiritual” commune where he’d been living for the past years.

Located in the remote Pyrenean valleys, the society is reportedly “cut off and has no schools”.

Members are also understood to travelling about from place to place in an itinerant commune, a police source told the BBC.

As investigations take place, Alex did not make any references to any sort of cult or sect-like lifestyle, but was said to describe “a life in community” with his mother and grandfather, La Depeche reported.

Simone Risch, president of Infos Sectes, is used to collecting testimonies from those who escape cult-like societies.

Speaking to the French outlet, he said “the break with society, children out of school, social isolation and life in self-sufficiency are often the beginnings of a shift towards a sectarian movement”.

“If the choice of an alternative and itinerant lifestyle does not in itself constitute a sectarian drift, we must still remain vigilant about the evolution of these organisations.

“Some are renewed very quickly, through social networks and can show another face,” Risch warned.

It’s understood the first words Alex said to a lorry driver who picked him up on the side of the road were: “My mother kidnapped me when I was 12 years old”.

The British teen is also said to have told the lorry driver who rescued him that his mother “is a little crazy”.

But the boy is refusing to tell prosecutors where he has been living for the last six years, or where his mum is hiding out, the BBC reports.

Fabien Accidini, a student from Toulouse who has a part-time job delivering medicines by lorry, said he spotted the English teenager on Wednesday. 

Mr Accidini told La Depeche: “He was walking while the rain fell in heavy drops. The second time I passed him, I decided to offer to drop him off somewhere.

“He was quite tall and blond, and dressed in black jeans, a white sweater and a backpack.

“He also carried a skateboard under his arm and a flashlight for lighting.”

Accidini added: “He said his mother kidnapped him when he was 12 years old. Since then, he had lived in Spain in a luxury house with around ten people. 

“He arrived in France in around 2021. In the middle of last weekend, he decided to leave his mother to join his family in England. He had been walking in the mountain for more than four days!

“He lived with his mother in a spiritual community, far away from normal life. Alex told me his mother was a little crazy but she never imprisoned him.”

He also told Sky News the teenager spoke of his wishes for a normal life, including seeing his grandmother again.

“He didn’t have regrets [about leaving the community]… he just wanted to live a normal life, to see his grandmother again and to have a normal future, that’s the word that he used,” the student said.

The young boy, who disappeared in 2017, was only supposed to be in Marbella for a week on a pre-agreed trip with his mum, Melanie, 37, and grandfather David, 58.

However the family never returned home to Oldham, Greater Manchester, leaving his grandmother and legal guardian Susan Caruana devastated.

The aunt of the missing teen also spoke out after French gendarmes confirmed he had been found in the south of France.

Maureen Batty, 73, from Nelson, Lancashire, said she is relieved but worries what Alex “will be like” after the six-year ordeal, The Mirror reports.

She said: “I am glad he has been found because we had no idea about where he has been for the last six or seven years.

“I am relieved that he is safe. He is coming home next week.

“I don’t know where his mother or grandad are and they are not pressing Alex about it yet.

“Alex hasn’t had any education while out there, so we don’t know what he’ll be like when he comes home.

“It has affected me. Alex has had it rough. It is a mess.

She added: “I’ve been told that Alex said that he had escaped and he didn’t want to lead that lifestyle. So he is thinking straight on those lines.

” I just want to know the truth about what’s gone on. He is safe now.”

A French police spokesman said: “We can confirm that the young man who has been found is Alex Batty. He is well and providing information.”

In a statement, the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office said: “We are supporting a British national in France and are in contact with local authorities.”

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