A British con man who appeared in a Netflix documentary and was wanted in France after injuring two police officers while fleeing a raid was arrested and held in Belgium this weekend.
- Robert Hendy-Freegard was the subject of the Netflix series The Puppet Master: Hunting the Ultimate Conman
- According to local officials, he had allegedly been illegally breeding dogs in France.
- He was previously jailed for life for deception, robbery and kidnapping, but was released when the kidnapping charge was dropped.
Robert Hendy-Freegard, a 51-year-old former bartender, has been on the run since late August, when he hit two officers with his Audi A3 in a remote village in central France before speeding away.
Earlier this year, he was the subject of a three-part Netflix documentary The Puppet Master: Hunting the Ultimate Conman, which apparently sparked the raid in France.
He was arrested on Friday (local time) near Brussels, a Belgian federal police spokeswoman said.
Belgian prosecutors confirmed that he appeared before a magistrate in Brussels on Saturday and was detained pending extradition to France.
Hendy-Freegard faces a European arrest warrant issued by France and is due in court in Belgium within 15 days.
Prosecutors said they did not know if he would challenge the extradition.
According to local officials, Hendy-Freegard had allegedly been illegally breeding dogs and living off and on in the village of Vidaillat, some 260 miles south of Paris, since 2015.
French workplace and animal rights inspectors arrived at the house with police officers on August 25 to examine the premises, but Hendy-Freegard started her vehicle and struck two officers before speeding off.
Both officers were injured, one of whom required hospital treatment for a nose wound. Hendy-Freegard faces charges of attempted murder of a public official, which carry a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison.
‘The lies have to be big’
The convicted con man has been nicknamed The Puppet Master for his ability to exert control over his victims.
He was jailed for life by a London court in 2005 for cheating, robbery and kidnapping in an extraordinary trial that heard seven people whose money he used to enjoy luxury cars and five-star holidays.
The kidnapping charges were later overturned on appeal, meaning he was released from prison in 2009, when outraged victims warned he would strike again.
In the Netflix documentary, the children of a woman believed to be his current partner, Sandra Clifton, said that she had disappeared after meeting him.
In February, a local retired couple who lived near the house saw the documentary and recognized Clifton.
They then contacted their daughter online.
During her trial in London, Hendy-Freegard was said to have lived by the motto “Lies have to be big to be convincing”.
He had persuaded his victims to believe that he was a British intelligence officer and that they were on the run from terrorists.