Puppet Master: UK conman appeals against handover to French police

He is currently in prison in Belgium where he was caught by police after driving his car into two French gendarmes at the end of August

A photo of Robert Hendy-Freegard in 2005, the year he was sentenced to life in prison in the UK
Published Last updated

An infamous British conman who is currently in prison in Belgium has appealed against a handover to French police. He is wanted in France, where authorities have issued a European arrest warrant for him, for attempted murder after driving his car into two gendarmes on August 25.

Robert Hendy-Freegard, 51, is the subject of a recent Netflix documentary called ‘The Puppet Master: Hunting the Ultimate Conman’ and a Netflix feature film called ‘Rogue Agent’.

He is a notorious fraudster who runs elaborate scams to trick victims into giving him money.

Read more: British Netflix conman wanted for attempted murder in France is caught

On August 25, French police attended a house in the small village of Vidaillat (Creuse) to investigate a dog breeding facility run by a woman associated with Hendy-Freegard, Sandra Clifton – who her children claim is a victim of Hendy-Freegard.

Hendy-Freegard arrived at the property shortly after and when questioned by the police he sped off, hitting two police officers and leaving them with serious injuries, including a broken leg and facial injuries.

During a search of the property, officers later found new phones with prepaid cards.

An investigation was opened by the Guéret public prosecutor's office for "attempted deliberate homicide of a person holding public authority" and was entrusted to the investigation unit of the Limoges judicial court (Haute-Vienne).

Hendy-Freegard was stopped by Belgium’s highway police on September 3 around 30 minutes south of Ghent after his car was spotted by Automatic Number Plate Recognition cameras. He was in the same car as when he hit the police officers.

He has now appealed against a decision by a Brussels court, made September 15, to hand him over to French police.

He is now set to appear before a Brussels court of appeal, but no date has yet been set.

Who is Robert Hendy-Freegard?

Hendy-Freegard was sentenced to life in prison in the UK in 2005 for theft, deception and kidnapping-by-fraud, having been accused of extorting £1million from his victims and dubbed ‘The Puppet Master’ by Scotland Yard.

However, he was released in 2009 after the kidnapping sentence was quashed on appeal.

He has run several intricate scams in the past, including tricking victims into giving him money by posing as an Mi5 agent and making them believe that they were being tracked by the IRA and had to flee.

Michael Bronner, who co-wrote the film ‘Rogue Agent’ and who has been following Hendy-Freegard’s case for over 15 years, previously told The Connexion that he thinks the investigation into attempted murder of a police officer will be the conman’s downfall.

Read more: French case is Puppet Master’s undoing, says writer tracking UK conman

“The fraud is complicated and hard to prove, this dog breeding business appears to be fraudulent but that’s a harder case to bring than attempted murder of a policeman, to which there were many witnesses,” he said.

“It seems he is pretty screwed.”

Mr Bronner described Hendy-Freegard as an “expert conman”.

“He was able to be patient and to really see even the smallest vulnerability [in his victims] and slowly and expertly pick it open,” he said.

“The FBI agent who was involved in his initial capture…I talked to her quite a bit and she was a very experienced senior agent. She told me that he was the most naturally gifted conman she had ever come across.”

Related articles

French mayor raised alarm over British ‘Puppetmaster’ conman in 2018