A teenager who went missing for six years has said he hopes police do not find his mother and grandfather after he was allegedly abducted.
Alex Batty, then 11-years-old, went on holiday with his mother, Melanie Batty – who does not have legal parental guardianship – and his grandfather, David Batty, in 2017.
But the teenager never returned, and is said to have lived an “alternative” lifestyle in Spain, Morocco and France before deciding to return home.
The 17-year-old said he left his mother and walked out of the rented house where they were staying near Chalabre, southern France, in December.
He was then picked up by chiropody student Fabien Accidini near Toulouse at around 3am, after walking for two days.
Speaking to the Daily Mirror ahead of his 18th birthday, Alex said he believed his mother took him to live abroad “out of love” and that he hoped police did not catch them.
“It’s what she thought was best and that’s all you can really do, isn’t it? She and my grandad did it with the best intentions,” the teenager said.
“I know they’re not going to get in contact (for my birthday). They’re definitely not going to risk it. If they get in contact, it’ll be when they’re 100% sure they’re all right. They won’t rush it for my birthday.
“I hope the police don’t find them. I love them both, but if I don’t see them again it’s not a big deal. You can love someone and not talk to them.”
Alex is now under the legal guardianship of his grandmother, Susan Caruana, in Oldham. He also revealed that he wanted to go to college, called himself Zack Edwards while living abroad, and still thinks and speaks mainly in French.
“I’ve found it difficult since I got back talking to people my age,” he admitted to the newspaper.
“I’ve been around adults since I was 11 and spent all my time talking to them, so I call people my own age ‘kids’.
“It’s engraved in me. It still doesn’t feel real that I’m back. It’s still not really sunk in. I think it’ll probably hit me sometime soon, but it hasn’t yet.”
The 17-year-old previously told The Sun in December that his mother was “anti-government, anti-vax”, and added: “She’s a great person and I love her, but she’s just not a great mum.
“I had an argument with my mum and I just thought I’m gonna leave, because I can’t live with her. 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.”
French authorities said Alex’s mother may now be in Finland. His grandfather is believed to have died six months ago.
Greater Manchester Police started a criminal investigation into the alleged child abduction of Alex in December. Sky News has approached the force for updates on the case.