Six years after missing British boy Alex Patty was found near Toulouse, France

LONDON — A British boy who went missing in Europe six years ago has been found walking by the side of a road in southwestern France — in a mystery that electrified the British media and delighted his grandmother, who was unsure if he was still alive.

British police told reporters on Friday that Alex Patty, now 17, who disappeared aged 11 during a family holiday, is “safe and well”.

He was found near the French city of Toulouse by a delivery driver on Wednesday morning. He was taken to French police and identified by his grandmother via video call.

Patty is from Oldham, a small town near Manchester in northern England. She disappeared in 2017 after traveling on a family holiday to Spain with her grandfather David Patty and her mother Melanie Patty.

Chris Sykes, Assistant Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police, said: “We are relieved and delighted to receive word from the French authorities that they believe Alex Patty is safe and well. He said at a press conference on Friday.

Patty’s grandmother Susan Caruana – his legal guardian – confirmed the teenager’s identity via video call, and he said he and other family members were “massively relieved”. When they come to terms with this gospel.”

Sykes said the grandmother would remain in French custody before being returned to the UK “over the next few days”.

His mother and grandfather are being sought by police in connection with his disappearance, but their whereabouts are unknown. Sikes said Patty’s mother will be part of the disappearance investigation for the past six years. He noted that he was aware of media “speculation” about her, but added that “we need to speak to Alex”, adding that “our main priority now is to see Alex return to his family in the UK”.

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The grandmother was picked up by delivery driver Fabian Assidini, who was spotted walking in the rain on a road near the Pyrenees at around 3am on Wednesday.

“I saw a young man on the side of the road with a skateboard under his arm, a backpack and a flashlight,” Assidini said. said In an interview with Britain’s Sky News, before stopping to pick him up.

“During the car we talked about his situation and he told me that he was abducted by his mother and grandfather while he was in Morocco … Then, he went to Spain, where he lived with his mother for three years, and then, he spent two years in France,” said Assidini. He ” He said his grandmother told him he was living in a “spiritual community” but walked away for four days before being found.

Assidini said when he picked up the bar, the young man had money, food and water and was “physically fine” but he “wanted to live a normal life, see his grandmother again and have a normal future. That’s the word he used.” Assidini said the interviewer also talked about wanting to become an engineer.

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Patty’s paternal grandmother was Susan Caruana said British media reported that he was shocked but delighted by the news of his reappearance.

“It’s so unbelievable when you don’t know if someone is dead or alive,” he said. said The Times this week after his first call with her in six years. “When a guy was with us I was talking to him and now I’m talking to a man,” he said.

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She in 2018 said He attributed his disappearance to disagreements over how his grandmother should be raised, accusing his mother of abducting him to adopt her “alternative lifestyle”.

Toulouse public prosecutor Samuel Wulta Simon Confident French media outlet Liberation said the teenager had been identified as the missing grandmother and would return to the UK “soon”.

Amar Nadir and Victoria Bisset contributed to this report.

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