How Alex Batty’s mother ‘went from law student to ‘chaotic’ cult member who left her young son in Morocco to live in Bali with a new boyfriend and sent her mother a £500,000 ‘bill’ for ‘her use of’ Alex’

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A newly resurfaced interview with the grandmother of a British boy who went missing for six years has revealed that his mother went from being a law student to a ‘chaotic’ cult member in a few short years.

Alex Batty, from Oldham, Lancashire, was just 11 when he did not return from a holiday to Spain with his mother Melanie, then 37, and grandfather David, then 58, in 2017.

His grandmother and legal guardian, Susan Caruana, said she believed her daughter and ex-husband David had taken him abroad to live an ‘alternative lifestyle’. Reports have suggested he was living in ‘a kind of itinerant commune’.

On Wednesday, he was found by a French student after a four-day hike after fleeing the ‘community’ located in the foothills of the French Pyrenees, in an effort to reach his grandmother in England.

Alex, now 17, is refusing to reveal where he has been living for the last six years, or where his mum, who he described as ‘a little crazy’, is hiding out.

In 2018, Susan revealed that Melanie was a rebellious teenager, partying hard, drinking, and Susan and her husband, Dave, struggled to cope with her.

She went to college and got a law degree but couldn’t hold down a job. In 2006, she gave birth to Alex.

Susan said: ‘I lived nearby, and I saw Alex every day, I looked after him a lot and we had such a close bond. I loaned loads of money to Melanie, to care for Alex, but she just blew the lot.’

Susan and Dave by now had separated, and Dave was receiving therapy for health issues. Afterwards, he changed dramatically.

Susan, from Oldham, said: ‘Dave went through therapy and afterwards he began acting strangely. He became very spiritual. He didn’t believe in working any more and so he fell behind with his mortgage and bills and the bailiffs were called in.

‘Melanie became caught up with his new lifestyle too and she got involved with a cult. She began travelling abroad, with Alex. Their lives were chaotic. Melanie didn’t believe in school or education. I was really worried about them.’

In 2014, Melanie took Alex, aged eight, to live in a commune in Morocco. Dave soon followed.

Susan said: ‘I was devastated. I was so close to Alex and I missed him terribly. From Facebook I could see that the conditions there were terrible.

‘Then, Melanie went off to live in Bali with a new boyfriend, leaving Alex behind. I was panic-stricken and I paid for a flight home for him.’

Alex began living with Susan. Melanie remained in Bali and contacted Alex intermittently on Skype.

Susan said: ‘I got Alex into a local school in Oldham and he was really settled and happy. He was so pleased to have a home.’

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