Crimes of fake MI5 spy Robert Hendy-Freegard from Blyth subject of new Netflix documentary

The story of a fake MI5 agent from Blyth who conned his unsuspecting victims out of hundreds of thousands of pounds is the subject of a new documentary on Netflix.

Wednesday, 19th January 2022, 9:35 am

Netflix has just released a new true crime documentary series all about the life and crimes of Robert Hendy-Freegard, from Blyth.

The series is called The Puppet Master: Hunting The Ultimate Conman and explores his crimes from when they first started, right into modern day.

Hendy-Freegard’s deception went on for more than a decade before he was eventually trapped in a sting involving the FBI and he was sentenced to life after an eight month trial.

Born in 1971 in Hodthorpe, Hendy-Freegard began his double life in 1992 while working as a barman and car dealer in Wales.

He met his victims on social occasions or as customers and would reveal his "role" as an undercover agent for MI5, Special Branch or Scotland Yard working against the IRA.

He would win them over, ask for money and make them do his bidding and demanded that they cut off contact with family and friends, go through "loyalty tests" and live alone in poor conditions as their lives were supposedly in danger.

A number of women he targeted fell in love with him.

Robert Hendy-Freegard, from Blyth, in Nottinghamshire.

One student he conned allowed himself to be beaten up, while another woman slept on park benches and lived off Mars bars.

He was said to the the “most accomplished” liar one experienced Metropolitan Police officer had ever met, and was only caught after a joint operation between Scotland Yard and the FBI which saw him arrested in May 2003.

After an eight-month trial in 2005 he was sentenced to life in prison for two counts of kidnapping, 10 of theft and eight of deception.

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In 2007 Hendy-Freegard successfully appealed his sentence, arguing that his convictions for kidnapping should be quashed as he did not physically prevent them from leaving him.

He managed to get the convictions for kidnapping quashed and the life sentence was revoked, on the basis that his victims were not forced to live with him.

He served a nine-year sentence for the other offences.

One of the victims, student John Atkinson, handed over more than £300,000 and is interviewed in the Netflix series.

Elsewhere in the documentary, Robert Hendy-Freegard is referred to as David, by the family of a woman named Sandra Clifton, who decided to stay with him.

In the first episode, her children, Sophie and John, reveal how their mother met a man named David on a dating site.

It later came to their attention that this man was in fact Robert Hendy-Freegard.

They say after getting involved with Freegard, Sandra disappeared and they haven’t seen her in years. They occasionally have brief contact with Sandra, but her whereabouts remain unknown.

Robert Hendy-Freegard’s whereabouts are also unknown. Netflix attempted to contact him for comment in the feature, but received no response.

The three-part documentary The Puppet Master: Hunting the Ultimate Conman launched on Netflix on Tuesday January 18.