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British boy found six years after kidnapping ‘wants to live a normal life’, student who found him tells Sky News | UK News

British teenager Alex Batty did not seem angry about being “kidnapped” by his mother six years ago and now just wants to live a “normal life”, the French student who found him has told Sky News.

Fabien Accidini offered the 17-year-old a lift in the early hours of Wednesday morning after spotting him walking alone in heavy rain near the southern French city of Toulouse.

As the pair travelled together, Alex revealed he had been kidnapped by his mother in 2017 when he was just 11 and had lived in a luxury house in Spain with around 10 people as part of a “spiritual community”, before moving to France in around 2021.

The teenager said he had been hiking in nearby mountains for more than four days in an attempt to return to England.

Speaking to Sky News in his first interview with a British news organisation, Mr Accidini said Alex seemed tired and stressed when he picked him up, but was otherwise calm and was “really fine physically”.

The 26-year-old initially did not believe the Briton’s story but eventually agreed to call the police after hearing more details of what happened to him.

Alex Batty 
Alex Batty Pic: GMP

‘He didn’t have regrets’

Mr Accidini said: “After I called the police to explain the situation, when the cops arrived, that’s when I realised the whole story [was real].”

The student said Alex did not seem angry at being held in the “community” and said he had not been chained up – although it was unclear if he had been allowed to leave at any time.

“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 added.

When asked if he had a message for Alex, Mr Accidini said: “I hope that your grandmother will be happy… I am sure of it. And if you want to meet again I am here.”

The student was working as a driver delivering medicines to pharmacies on the night he picked up Alex, and said the teenager had helped him with his job along the way.

He jokingly added that if Alex “want[s] to work with the pharmacy deliveries again call me”.

Read more from Sky News:
Missing woman called friend after last sighting
Interest rate held at 5.25% for third time
Premier League to have first female referee

Missing since he was 11

Alex went abroad with his mother Melanie Batty, 38, who does not have legal parental guardianship, and his grandfather David Batty, 59, on a pre-agreed trip when he was 11.

He flew with them to Malaga Airport for a week-long stay in the Benahavis area near Marbella. However, the family did not return to England as expected in October 2017.

Mother Melanie Batty does not have parental guardianship of Alex
Mother Melanie Batty

David Batty is wanted in connection with Alex's abduction
Grandfather David Batty

Despite international public appeals, Alex’s legal guardian – his grandmother Susan Caruana – has not seen him since he left the UK.

She previously said her daughter and ex-husband lived in a commune in Morocco with Alex in 2014 as part of an “alternative lifestyle”, which she thought lay behind the youngster’s disappearance.

The UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) said: “We are supporting a British national in France and are in contact with local authorities.”

M53 school bus crash: Survivor describes ‘shock’ and flashbacks after death of student Jessica Baker and driver Stephen Shrimpton | UK News

A teenager who was on the coach which overturned in a fatal crash on the M53 in Cheshire says he is “happy to be alive”.

Speaking to Sky News anonymously, he recalled how what started as a normal school day on Friday turned into a tragedy.

“We were all just chatting on our phones,” he said. “Then all of sudden, nothing seemed real. I stood up because I felt something really weird, then all of sudden getting thrown to the side. The bus had tipped.”

Jessica Baker, a 15-year-old pupil at West Kirby Grammar School and bus driver, Stephen Shrimpton, died after the vehicle overturned on the motorway on Friday morning.

Mr Shrimpton, 40, was “suffering medical issues” while at the wheel, his sister-in-law Emily wrote on a crowdfunding page.

Jessica Baker and Stephen Shrimpton
Jessica Baker and Stephen Shrimpton died in the crash

Police said 58 people were involved in the crash. Four children were taken to hospital, one of whom, a 14-year-old boy, is said to have sustained life-changing injuries.

Pupils from West Kirby Grammar School and Calday Grange Grammar School were onboard.

‘People lying down everywhere’

After the bus hit a central reservation, the teenager told Sky News he eventually managed to climb through the smashed front window, but says what he saw was distressing.

“I looked around and there’s just people lying down everywhere. Bags are everywhere,” the pupil said.

West Kirby all-girls grammar school.
Flowers left at West Kirby all-girls grammar school.

“There’s glass everywhere. And it’s just like blood everywhere. I’ve seen both my mates on the floor, but I thought they were dead.

“I looked around again and saw a girl stood next to me. I was in shock, I put my hand on my face. I looked back at my hand and it was covered in blood, I remember saying, this can’t be my blood.”

Read more from Sky News:
At least 13 people killed in nightclub fire in Spain
Caesarean sections delayed due to NHS strike

Some of the students were eventually taken to nearby hospitals, while others were taken to an emergency services training centre in Wallasey, with 13 treated for minor injuries.

The pupil Sky News spoke to says he was certain no other students had died, so it came as a shock when he heard that Jessica had lost her life.

‘Just a horrible thing to think about’

The pair knew each other, and he described her as friendly.

“Obviously it could have been me in that position” he said. “She’s basically my age really, it’s just a horrible thing to think about.”

Emergency services at the scene of a coach crash on the M53 motorway, between junction 5 at Ellesmere Port and junction 4 at Bebbington. The coach was carrying schoolchildren to Calday Grange Grammar School and West Kirby Grammar School for Girls. Picture date: Friday September 29, 2023.

The teenager has been to A&E for his physical injuries but says the mental impact of what happened is causing flashbacks, including when in the car, and when there are sudden noises.

His overall feeling though, is that he is incredibly lucky.

“A couple of hours after it had happened, when I was sat upstairs. I’d realised it was crazy, I still don’t know how, like, I got up so quick and things like that and I don’t know how I wasn’t screaming, crying,” he added.

“I think I was subconsciously happy to be alive. Happy to be where I am now.”

Titan submersible: Student, 19, killed was ‘terrified’ before trip but went as a Father’s Day present | World News

The 19-year-old university student who was killed in the Titan submersible was “terrified” before the trip but went as a Father’s Day present.

Azmeh Dawood, the older sister of businessman Shahzada Dawood, told Sky’s US partner network NBC News that Mr Dawood’s son Suleman was “very not into doing it”.

“Suleman had a sense that this was not okay and he was not very comfortable about doing it,” she said.

Shahzada Dawood and his son Suleman
Shahzada Dawood and his son Suleman (L)

Tributes paid to Titan passengers – live updates

“But it was a Father’s Day thing. It was a bonding experience and he wanted the adventure of a lifetime just like his father did.

“His father wanted it and that was Sule all the way – he’d do anything for anyone.”

Azmeh said the other men who were killed in the “catastrophic implosion” went on the trip “for their own interests” – unlike Suleman.

“They were there for their own reasons. Suleman was just there for [a] Father’s Day bonding experience.

“To be honest, as terrible as it sounds, at least knowing that they wouldn’t have had time to know, they would have just been sat there enjoying themselves and then suddenly boom. It was over. To know that my Sule didn’t feel a moment’s pain.”

Titan submersible in June 2021. File pic: OceanGate Expeditions via AP.
Titan submersible in June 2021. File pic: OceanGate Expeditions via AP

Describing Shahzada as a “precious angel”, she said he was interested in the Titanic from a young age.

“It was his biggest wish, dream, everything,” she said.

“For Shahzada he fulfilled his dream in an extraordinary way.

“He’s become part of the Titanic legend. I mean, in those terms, it could be nothing greater.”

Speaking from her home in Amsterdam, Azmeh said she was glued to news coverage on the Titan.

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‘Two friends of mine are gone’

Questions remain about Titan’s mechanical and safety issues

It was the outcome that nobody wanted but everyone feared.

As time passed in this search, the prospect of a happy ending diminished.

Coordinators had spoken of hope but throughout they had managed expectations – emphasising the scale of the challenge, calling it “enormously complex”, in an offshore environment they described as “incredibly unforgiving”.

So there was a sense of inevitability about the announcement that debris had been found – the Coastguard news conference on Boston’s harbour side was laced with sorrow, if not surprise.

Questions will continue to be asked about the Titan, its condition and suitability to make the trip.

Mechanical and safety issues remain a big part of this story.

There has been much criticism of the vessel’s structure before, during and after it went missing.

OceanGate, the company that owned the Titan, issued a statement in which it described the five on board as “true explorers who shared a distinct spirit of adventure”. No doubt.

No doubt, either, that in pursuit of adventure, they deserved transport they could count on.

Misplaced trust cost them their lives as they sought a glimpse of the Titanic.

Disasters do tend to attract disaster.

Maritime investigators will consider whether, in the case of the Titan, this was one waiting to happen.

“I feel disbelief,” Azmeh said, speaking through sobs. “It’s an unreal situation.”

“I feel like I’ve been caught in a really bad film, with a countdown, but you didn’t know what you’re counting down to.

“I personally have found it kind of difficult to breathe thinking of them.”

Read more:
What happened to the Titan submersible?
Who were the five men on board Titan?

Both British citizens, Shahzada and Suleman Dawood were members of one of Pakistan’s most prominent families.

The family’s namesake business empire, Dawood Hercules Corporation, has investments in agriculture, the health sector and other industries.

Billionaire Shahzada was the vice chairman of the Karachi-based Engro Corporation and an adviser to Prince’s Trust International, a charitable organisation founded by King Charles.

Leeds St James’s Hospital: Student nurse appears in court accused of planning terror attack on RAF base | UK News

A student nurse has appeared in court accused of taking a pressure cooker bomb to a maternity hospital in Leeds and planning a terrorist attack on an RAF base.

Mohammad Farooq, 27, was allegedly inspired by radical Islam and Jihad when he carried out “hostile reconnaissance” of the military base in Yorkshire on 10 January and 18 January after carrying out online research.

He is said to have constructed a viable bomb made from a pressure cooker, 13.7kg of a homemade low explosive mixture and a length of pyrotechnic fuse.

Farooq was arrested in the early hours of last Friday outside the maternity unit of St James’s Hospital in Leeds, where he had been due to work a shift.

He was allegedly in possession of the explosive device and an imitation firearm – a Gediz 9mm P.A.K semi-automatic pistol.

His actions at the hospital are not alleged to have been motivated by terrorism but by a grudge towards another member of staff.

Farooq, from Leeds, appeared at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Friday from a police station in Bradford wearing a grey tracksuit.

He spoke to confirm his name, address and date of birth but was not asked to enter pleas to the three charges he faces.

Farooq is charged with one count of engaging in conduct with the intention of committing acts of terrorism between 12 July and last year and 20 January.

A bomb disposal unit at St James's Hospital, Leeds, where patients and staff were evacuated from some parts of the building following the discovery of a suspicious package outside the Gledhow Wing, which houses the majority of its maternity services including the delivery suite. A 27-year-old man from Leeds has been arrested in connection with the matter. Picture date: Friday January 20, 2023.

Wards on the Gledhow wing of the hospital were evacuated after Farooq was detained at around 5am last Friday.

Army specialists and a bomb disposal unit also attended the scene and a cordon was put in place as a precautionary measure.

Read more:
At least one dead in Spanish church ‘terror attack’ stabbing
British teenage extremist whose videos were linked to two mass murders in US jailed

Farooq is said to have told a man he “felt like killing everyone” before showing him a gun, then told police officers he had a bomb.

There was no application for bail and he was remanded in custody ahead of his next appearance at the Old Bailey on 3 February.

Teenager arrested on suspicion of murdering university student Luke O’Connor | UK News

A 19-year-old has been arrested on suspicion of murdering a student who was fatally stabbed in Manchester.

Luke O’Connor, 19, died in hospital after he was attacked in Wilmslow Road, Fallowfield, at about 2am on Wednesday.

A 19-year-old man was detained in the area on Friday evening and is being questioned.

Superintendent Helen Critchley, of City of Manchester South district, said: “The arrest of a 19-year-old suspect on Friday night is an important step in our investigation which is moving at pace.

“Since the tragic killing of Luke our investigation team has made significant progress as we do all we can to get justice for Luke’s family who we are continuing to support at this devastating time.

“There are still a number of inquiries being conducted to establish what happened in the early hours of Wednesday, but what is clear is that this was a senseless and needless loss of a promising young life that has shocked our student community and we are doing all we can to support them too.”

Mr O’Connor was a second year business management student at Manchester Metropolitan University and his family described him as “truly one of a kind, whose presence would light up any room”.

Read more:
Luke O’Connor was a “gentle giant with big hopes and dreams”, family say

In a statement on Thursday, they said: “Our hearts yearn for the loss of Luke; we are truly devastated by this tragedy.

“Luke was loved by so many people, and he knew how much he was loved in return.

“He loved the freedom of student living and studying and was loving life in Manchester.

“Luke was the youngest of three boys in our family and was a gentle giant with big hopes and dreams for the future.

“His biggest dream was to travel the world, but now Luke will never be able to fulfil that dream.”

Owami Davies: Met Police investigated after previously speaking to missing student nurse | UK News

The Met Police is being investigated after the watchdog learnt officers had previously been in contact with missing student nurse Owami Davies.

The 24-year-old from Essex was last seen on 7 July in Croydon after leaving her family home in Grays, Essex three days prior, and has not yet been found.

She was reported missing to Essex Police by her family on 6 July, with the force later handing the file over to the Met on 23 July.

However, on Saturday, Scotland Yard revealed its officers had spoken to Ms Davies on 6 July, after responding to an address in Croydon to concerns over the welfare of a woman.

Both the police and ambulance service attended and spoke to Ms Davies, who told them she did not want help.

At the time, she had not been marked as a missing person on the police database, and was only established later to be Ms Davies during the investigation to find her.

The Met said it is not investigating the officers in question, and its professional standards body was consulted, adding the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) requested the matter to be referred to them.

In a statement, Scotland Yard said: “The Met’s Directorate of Professional Standards (DPS) were consulted and as there has been contact with police the IOPC were informed.

“The IOPC has requested the matter be referred to them.

“The officers are not subject to any current investigation by the DPS.

“The interaction recorded on the officers’ body-worn video has been viewed by members of the Independent Advisory Group and Owami’s family to ensure openness and transparency.”

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Last known image of missing nurse

The IOPC said in a statement: “We can confirm that we received a referral on August 5 from the Metropolitan Police Service in relation to contact officers had with Owami Davies in Croydon on July 6, after she had been reported missing to Essex Police.

“We are currently assessing the available information to determine what further action may be required.”

A renewed appeal to find Ms Davies was launched last week, with the British Transport Police saying she could still be using trains in the area.

The Metropolitan Police added: “Owami has been depressed and in the absence of her medication may use alcohol to relieve her depression.”

So far, five people have been arrested as part of the investigation, two on suspicion of murder and three on suspicion of kidnap – all of whom have been released on bail.

Anyone with information should call the incident room on 020 8721 4622, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Owami Davies: Fifth man arrested over disappearance of student nurse as Met Police renew appeal | UK News

A fifth man has been arrested over the disappearance of student nurse Owami Davies, with the Met Police renewing their appeal for information a month on from the last confirmed sighting of her.

The police have now arrested five people – two on suspicion of murder and three on suspicion of kidnap.

The most recent arrest was a 33-year-old man held on suspicion of kidnap on Saturday.

Four of those arrested have since been released on bail.

Owami was last seen in the early hours of 7 July as she walked along Derby Road, West Croydon.

She had left her family home in Grays, Essex three days earlier.

Owami Davies left her family home on July 4 and was last seen just after midnight on Derby Road

Detective Chief Inspector Nigel Penney, who is leading the investigation, said: “This is a complex ongoing investigation involving a significant number of officers.

“We are working tirelessly to follow every line of enquiry, including extensive CCTV trawls, as we continue to search for Owami.

“We are now a month on from the last confirmed sighting of her. I cannot imagine what that time has been like for her family. We continue to provide them with whatever support we can.

“I am grateful for the help we have received from the public so far, but I must again appeal for anyone who has information – however insignificant they believe it might be – to get in touch.”

The Met’s Specialist Crime Command is leading the investigation to establish what has happened to Owami.

Anyone with information has been urged to contact the incident room on 020 8721 4622.

Owami Davies: Fourth man arrested on suspicion of murder over missing student nurse in south London | UK News

A fourth man has been arrested in connection with the disappearance of student nurse Owami Davies.

The 24-year-old went missing after leaving her home in Grays, Essex, on 4 July.

She was last seen just after midnight on 7 July in Derby Road, West Croydon, south London.

On Wednesday, her mother made a “desperate” plea to the public to help find her daughter, whom she said was months away from finishing her nursing course and starting a job at Guy’s and St Thomas’ hospital.

“I am begging, I am asking for the public’s help, from the people, to say if you know, if you have heard or seen her, or she passed you, please speak up,” Ms Davies’s mother, Nicol Davies, said.

On Thursday, the Metropolitan Police arrested a 22-year-old man at an address in Croydon on suspicion of murder.

He is the fourth person to be arrested, after police had previously detained three men, aged 23, 27 and 32.

Police also released new CCTV images of Ms Davies, from the night she was last seen in a shop and on Derby Road.
CCTV released by police show Ms Davies in a shop in Croydon

Investigators are looking to speak to the driver of a white van, that was parked on the road.

Ms Davies was with a man and crossed the road just as the van pulled out, police said, adding the driver would have had a “good opportunity” to see both of them.

The Met Police said this remains a missing person enquiry.

‘There’s a barrier to receiving help’: Campaigners call for more support for student mental health services | UK News

Campaigners have said there is still a long way to go to support young people and prevent suicides after the government announced further funding for student mental health services.

The Student Minds mental healthy charity has received a three-year funding commitment of £262,500 annually from the Office for Students and the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales, to extend the provision of Student Space.

The platform offers students one-to-one mental health support as well as services via web, call and text.

The funding comes after the government allocated £3m to help the NHS work more closely with universities when providing students with mental health support.

However, campaigners have said there is a long way to go when it comes to providing students with the best possible mental health provisions.

Mental health activist Ben West told Sky News: “So many students I talk to don’t know what’s available, and even if they know what’s available they’re so mysteriously presented that, that there’s so much anxiety about going.

“That is such a barrier to receiving that help.”

He added that discrepancies between universities are also rife.

Mr West said: “It varies massively from university to university.

“Some universities I’ve seen and heard about are great, they’re very proactive in terms of the support they offer, and some universities are incredibly unproductive.

“We need so much more regulation and guidance from government.”

In 2018, Natasha Abrahart took her own life while in her second year at the University of Bristol.

Struggling with social anxiety, her well-being deteriorated as she faced increasing pressure around oral university assessments.

Her department was made aware of her situation.

Robert Abrahart, her father, told Sky News about how Natasha’s flatmate had written to staff about the fact the student had been having suicidal thoughts “and to some degree attempted it”.

He said: “At that point, you’d think people would pick up on it and do something.

“In fact, yes, they helped her to get to the GP service, but did nothing else in the department.”

Natasha Abrahart
Natasha Abrahart took her own life in her second year of university

Her mother Margaret Abrahart added: “I think they were quite frightened to talk to her in case it was upsetting.

“But then at the same time, they seem OK with putting her into a situation that would be really upsetting.”

Her parents later learned of more attempts their daughter had made to get help.

Mr Abrahart said: “There’s records of her searching the internet for ways of solving her own problems.”

Her mother added: “It’s very tragic to see the attempts she made to sort out her own problems.

“It was just one of those problems that was just too difficult, and she needed help”.

Natasha Abrahart with parents Robert and Margaret
Natasha Abrahart with parents Robert and Margaret

Ultimately, a landmark court ruling found the university’s failures contributed to Natasha’s death.

At the time, the University of Bristol said staff worked hard and diligently to support her and it is committed to providing the best possible support for students.

The university has also applied to appeal the court’s decision.

The case sparked conversations around student mental health, and her parents continue to campaign so other students don’t experience the distress Natasha did.

There are also concerns about the training around mental health provided to student-facing staff.

Read more:
COVID and social media pressures driving surge in mental health problems, say doctors
One in six young people in England has a diagnosable mental health condition

Third of young men trying to conform to social media’s ‘picture perfect culture’, survey says

Sky News obtained data from 109 universities through Freedom of Information requests.

It showed that 98% offer student-facing staff mental health training.

However, it isn’t mandatory in 67 out of 107 institutions – that’s 63%.

And while 37%, 40 out of 107, have some form of mandate – in most cases, this doesn’t cover all staff.

Clinical psychologist Peter Kinderman told Sky News understanding of mental health must be widespread.

He said: “It should be part of the duty of care that all university staff – and that includes cleaning staff as well as lecturing staff – should have towards their students.

“It should be inherent in what universities do.

“If universities are ducking their responsibilities to understand and then support student mental health, then I think they’re at fault.”

Anyone feeling emotionally distressed or suicidal can call Samaritans for help on 116 123 or email in the UK. In the US, call the Samaritans branch in your area or 1 (800) 273-TALK