Netflix 'Puppet Master' conman Robert Hendy-Freegard wanted after allegedly running over two French cops

A notorious British conman who started his criminal career in Newport is being hunted by French police for allegedly injuring two officers while fleeing an identity check, officials said today.

Robert Hendy Freegard
Robert Hendy Freegard

Robert Hendy-Freegard, 51, was the subject of the 'Puppet Master' Netflix documentary after he used incredible lies to trick women out of cash.

The conman first struck in Newport when working at The Swan pub and at a car dealership when he befriended two women, Sarah Smith and Maria Hendy, and a man, John Atkinson.

All three were agriculture students at Harper Adams University in Edgmond and he persuaded them he was an MI5 undercover agent investigating an IRA cell in the college.

Over 10 years he duped seven women and a man, convincing them they were IRA targets and persuading them to cut themselves off from friends and family.

In 2005 the fraudster was found guilty of two counts of kidnapping, 10 of theft and eight of deception and handed a life sentence. In the case he was labelled "the Puppet Master" for the control he exercised over victims

The two counts of kidnapping were eventually quashed and he served four years of a nine-year sentence after defrauding his victims out of more than £1 million.

According to French daily newspaper and website le Parisien, police say Hendy-Freegard drove his Audi A3 into the police officers on Thursday while escaping from his hideaway in the rural village of Vidaillat in the sparsely populated Creuse region in central France.

They were carrying out an inspection at the Beagle-breeding business he was running with his reclusive partner, 49-year-old Sandra Clifton, who local mayor Marine Laporte described as 'a total recluse' and 'totally under his influence'.

"While police were asking one of the partners to accompany them to the nearest station, the individual started his vehicle and hit two officers before fleeing," the newspaper said.

One policeman suffered serious facial wounds including 'multiple fractures' and remains in hospital, while the other was treated for lesser injuries.

The Shropshire Star reported in January how Hendy-Freegard brazenly turned up at Crufts to show his beagles as someone called David Clifton and boasted of having a Rolex watch and suits made in Savile Row.

And in February a brother and sister went on national television to plead with their mother to get in touch, claiming they had not seen her for seven years because of her relationship with him.

Jake Clifton, 25, and his sister Sophie, 28, believed he manipulated their mother Sandra into cutting them out of her life.

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