The Puppet Master Netflix: Who is Robert Hendy-Freegard, who were his victims and how can I watch the new show

A new Netflix docuseries takes a look at one of the UK’s most notorious conmen – who originally hailed from Dronfield.

Friday, 28th January 2022, 11:34 am

Robert Hendy-Freegard conned multiple people out of almost £1 million and took them under his control over a ten year period.

The programme, titled The Puppet Master: Hunting the Ultimate Conman, shows his story in detail – but who was he, who were his victims and where did he come from?

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Robert Hendy-Freegard is the subject of new Netflix programme The Puppet Master: Hunting the Ultimate Conman. Photo by The Metropolitan Police via Getty Images.

Here is everything you need to know.

Who is Robert Hendy-Freegard?

The conman was born in Dronfield, Derbyshire, and worked at a pub in Newport called The Swan.

He also worked as a car salesman in the 1990s and it is thought to be through these jobs that he met his victims.

The documentary also indicates he lived for a short time in Hillsborough.

It is believed that the crimes began in 1995 and that he would tell the victims he was a member of MI5, making them believe they were accomplices to his work in the secret services.

He threatened their families and would demand thousands of pounds from the people he met.

He is also thought to have travelled the world pretending to be a spy.

Who were the victims of Robert Hendy-Freegard?

Hendy-Freegard is believed to have conned at least seven women and one man during his crime spree, which went on for years.

Some of his victims feature in the Netflix programme.

These include John Atkinson, a student who gave him £300,000, and Sarah Smith – his second victim.

He met Atkinson, who was an agriculture student at Harper Adams Agricultural College, through his work in The Swan pub.

But another victim, Sandra Clifton, does not appear in the show.

She met Hendy-Freegard on a dating site and was with him for two years before she disappeared.

Her two children, Sophie and Jake, feature in the docuseries and say they have only had brief contact with their mother since, and that she has never revealed her location to them.

What happened to Robert Hendy-Freegard?

In 2002, the conman was arrested and in 2005 he was sentenced to life in prison.

His charges included two counts of kidnapping, 10 of theft and eight of deception.

After appealing his kidnapping charges in 2007, his life sentence was overturned and he is believed to have been released from prison.

He served nine years for his crimes and his current whereabouts are unknown.

Netflix was unable to contact him to be involved in the feature.

How can I watch The Puppet Master?

The programme was made by the creators of popular documentaries Don’t F**k with Cats and The Ripper, which rank very highly on Netflix.

The team were also responsible for the BAFTA-winning documentary The Imposter, which tells the story of Frederic Bourdin, a con artist who tricked a Texas family into believing he was a relative who had disappeared years earlier.

The Puppet Master: Hunting the Ultimate Conman features three episodes, lasting between 30 and 51 minutes each.

The synopsis reads: “In this harrowing docuseries, a cruel conman masquerading as a British spy manipulates and steals from his victims, leaving ruined families in his wake.”

All episodes are available to stream now on Netflix.