The final moments in France of Robert Hendy-Freegard, the master conman dubbed ‘The Puppet Master’ will be reconstructed later this week.
The re-enactment will detail how he drove into two gendarmes officers before fleeing the scene and the country, before being arrested in Belgium.
Robert Hendy-Freegard (also known as David Hendy) is a British scammer, who was the subject of the popular Netflix documentary The Puppet Master: Hunting the Ultimate Conman.
In August 2022, the gendarmes made a visit to a dog breeding facility run by him and his partner Sandra Clifton (whose children played a large part in the documentary, and claim she is one of his victims) in Vidaillat, Creuse.
The facility had received a number of complaints by residents for causing a disturbance in the village, alongside concerns over the welfare of the animals being bred.
When Mr Hendy-Freegard arrived on the scene, he was questioned by police officers before driving into them and speeding away, leaving two officers with broken bones and facial injuries.
After spending a week on the run, he was finally arrested in Belgium in September 2022 and returned to France the following month.
It is hoped the reconstruction will help paint a clearer picture of the case before he goes on trial. Currently Mr Hendy-Freegard is incarcerated in Limoges and could face over 30 years in prison if found guilty.
‘Puppet Master’ extorted thousands from victims
The conman, who was sentenced to life imprisonment in the UK in 2005 but released after appealing some of the charges, was nicknamed ‘The Puppet Master’ by Scotland Yard, and known for scamming dozens of individuals.
Media reports suggest that he was living in the Creuse department with Sandra Clifton, although it is thought he could have other victims in France.
The modus operandi of the fraudster is to make victim’s psychologically dependent on him, before asking them to give him money. He often targeted vulnerable women who he could manipulate and isolate from their families.
Previously in the UK, he pretended he was an undercover agent to manipulate his victims into trusting him, before asking them to hand over money or take out loans for him.
Although charges of fraud are more difficult to establish, screenwriter Michael Bronner, who has been following the actions of Mr Hendy-Freegard for over 15 years, said his actions against the gendarmes could be “his downfall,” in an interview with The Connexion last year.
The trial for the attempted murder is yet to take place, but the reconstruction of the crime – which had a number of witnesses – could help sentence the conman.
It is planned to take place at the end of August in Laforêt-Belleville, the part of the Vidaillat village where the original crime took place.
‘Hope he never sets foot here again’
Residents of the village where the incident took place say they are glad that he has been caught, and will likely be sentenced for the attempted murder.
“If he gets out of prison, in five or ten years, he's likely to do it [scamming people] again," said Pierre, a resident of the village.
"He's done nothing but that all his life. We hope he'll never set foot here again, not here, not anywhere else,” he added.
The conman’s presence in the village has caused a long-lasting rift “between those who helped Sandra [the partner and a suspected victim of Robert] to get out of there, and those who only saw the problem of the dogs and the nuisance,” added the resident.
Alongside the ‘Puppet Master’ documentary, a film about Mr Hendy-Freegard titled Rogue Agent was also released in 2022.