A missing 12-year-old who is alleged to have been abducted by members of his own family might have been taken to live in a commune abroad, police believe.
Alex Batty did not return to the UK after a week-long holiday in Spain with his mother, Melanie Batty, in October last year.
Ms Batty, 37, who does not currently have parental guardianship, and Alex’s grandfather David Batty, 58, are both wanted by police in connection with his alleged abduction.
Detectives investigating the boy’s disappearance do not believe he is at risk of harm, but they want to reunite him with Susan Caruana, his grandmother and legal guardian.
She said her daughter and ex-husband had previously taken the boy to a commune in Morocco in 2014 and believes a disagreement about his care could be behind the disappearance. One line of inquiry for police is that Alex might have been taken to the country again.
Greater Manchester Police issued a fresh appeal for information on Tuesday, which is Alex’s 12th birthday.
Mrs Caruana, 62, said she had received a video message from the three family members on Facebook in which Ms Batty had explained the reasons for taking Alex.
“The reason I believe they have done this is because basically my lifestyle, my belief systems, are not what they agree with,” she said.
“They didn’t want him to go to school, they don’t believe in mainstream school. I love him so much.
“I’m beginning to think I may never see him again. I just hope this appeal helps to find him.”
She said Alex might have been taken to Morocco as part of his mother’s pursuit of an “alternative lifestyle”.
Police now suspect the three may have travelled to Melilla, a Spanish city which borders northern Morocco.
But extensive police inquiries, an international appeal and assistance from Spanish authorities have failed to trace them.
Det Sgt Pete Morley said: “We’re really concerned because of some of the alternative beliefs held by Melanie.
“Alex may not be staying in conditions that are suitable for a child of his age. He could be living in a commune or sleeping on the floor.
“[There are] really key things Alex may not be receiving such as health care, basic check-ups from a GP, vaccinations, dental care.
“He’s obviously been withdrawn from education now since the start of October and we’re getting to a stage where we’re really concerned for this absence from education. It’s going to start having a very long-term impact on Alex’s development.”
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