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Last Updated: Thursday, 23 June 2005, 20:09 GMT 21:09 UK
'It was every schoolboy's fantasy'
Hendy-Freegard denied the charges
Power-mad conman Robert Hendy-Freegard forced the many victims who fell prey to his devious charm to endure squalid lives of degradation and suffering, according to the judge due to sentence him for two counts of kidnap, 10 of theft and eight of deception.

BBC News examines how some were sucked into the former barman's heinous world of make-believe espionage and derring-do.


Hendy-Freegard befriended Simon Young after popping into his Sheffield shop.

Having won his trust during several social outings, Hendy-Freegard persuaded the watchmaker to provide temporary accommodation for another of his victims, agriculture student Sarah Smith, before switching to his favourite subject - his "hush, hush" espionage work.

"He tried to enrol me into an organisation and offered me a job as well as certain training.

"Yes, I was interested in doing government work like this.

He sent me on the training - numerous different tasks
Simon Young

"Of course I was.

"It was every schoolboy's fantasy.

"Later he sent me on the training - numerous different tasks."

One involved going to Manchester to buy a £1.25 can opener from a particular shop.

Mr Young was given detailed instructions about which buses and trains to catch, the doors and escalators to be used, and warned he would be under constant surveillance.

Next he was ordered to buy a copy of the Gay Times and read it openly on the train to London.

Sheffield coach station had sold out of the magazine - but Mr Young headed for the capital anyway - armed with the can opener.

Following his orders to the letter, he went to a West End pub and asked the barman for a particular person.

Suspicions aroused

Told there was no one of that name there, but thinking it was all part his MI5 evaluation, Mr Young handed the surprised barman the can opener and said: "Well, when you see him, give him this."

His suspicions were only aroused when Hendy-Freegard failed to hide his amusement on hearing Mr Young's account of his mission.

The jeweller demanded to see Hendy-Freegard's bosses.

A meeting was arranged - but Mr Young was the only one there.

"By that time I disbelieved everything he said," he added.


Polish company director Renata Kister was seven months pregnant and had just separated from her partner when she became another casualty of the conman's "car showroom" charm.

He was so funny
Renata Kister

"He was extremely well-mannered, a true gentleman," she recalled.

"And he was so funny."

He told Miss Kister his MI5 bosses had ordered him to "watch someone" in the Sheffield Volkswagen dealership where he was working, persuaded her to buy a better car, but kept the £10,000 he made on her old one, then convinced her to take out a £15,000 loan for him.

Whenever she asked him for the money, he said he had not yet been paid for his secret assignment.

Once again Hendy-Freegard requested temporary accommodation for Miss Smith, saying she was on a witness protection scheme having fled her violent husband.

He told Miss Kister that Miss Smith was Spanish and could speak no English, while telling Miss Smith, whom he had convinced she was being hunted by the IRA, to pretend she could not understand anything said to her for security reasons.

As a result they never exchanged a word in three months.

And when police on the trail of the conman finally caught up with Miss Kister, she initially refused to cooperate with officers, whom she suspected of staging an MI5 "loyalty test".


Leslie Gardner gave Hendy-Freegard more than £16,000 during the six years after meeting him in a Newcastle nightclub, at the age of 28.

She even sold her car because he needed cash to "buy off some killers", whom he said were bombers released under the Good Friday agreement.

Hendy-Freegard also told the civil servant he had to pay off IRA blackmailers and buy himself out of the police, and needed money to start a new life as a taxi driver and help his gravely-ill mother.

Three months after he gave her a Volkswagen Golf, Miss Gardner found out she owed a finance company three monthly payments of £260 each.

Hendy-Freegard had pocketed his salesman's commission.

And Miss Gardner is still paying for the car.


Elizabeth Bartholemew, a personal assistant and sales administrator at a Vauxhall dealership in Sheffield, was 22, and her marriage just six-months-old when she met Hendy-Freegard.

A regular customer, she would look after his children while he test drove a string of top-of-the range cars.

He bought her expensive perfume, gave her the attention and affection she did not receive at home and "was very good in bed".

But the "horrifying eight-year nightmare" that followed cost her marriage, health, self-respect and £14,500.

"When he was in a good mood he was charming and couldn't do enough for you," she recalled.

"But everything had to be precise with him.

"If his shirt was even slightly creased he would take it off and throw a temper tantrum.

He kept saying I had failed the tests and until I passed we couldn't even have a sexual relationship again
Elizabeth Richardson

"It was like he had a trigger switch.

"He was like Jekyll and Hyde, a freak of nature.

"It got to the stage where his anger would make me so scared."

Then Hendy-Freegard revealed his "other life as a secret service spy".

He told her she was in danger from IRA terrorists and ordered her to sever contact with family and friends, change her name to Richardson and tell the deed poll officer it was because she had been molested as a child.

Hendy-Freegard also took photographs of her naked and warned if she ever disobeyed him he would show them to her husband.

She loved him desperately, but was told she would have to endure "loyalty tests" to satisfy MI5 they could marry.

They included becoming a blonde, going without make-up and sanitary towels, sleeping in Heathrow airport for several nights at a time, and living on park benches in Peterborough for weeks during winter.

"Sometimes I could not sleep so I would just walk around to keep out of danger."

Pus-oozing sores

Hendy-Freegard confiscated her jacket, leaving her shivering in just a T-shirt and jeans and made her survive on just a cheap loaf of bread or Mars bar a week.

Emaciated and covered with eczema, her feet covered in bleeding, pus-oozing sores, Miss Richardson spent most days in libraries to keep warm.

"I never talked to anyone about my plight.

"I was told people would be watching my every movement."

I was just waiting for him to say his bosses had given the word for us to live together
Elizabeth Richardson

Other tests included pretending to be a Jehovah's Witness and walking through London in a full Indian wedding sari, complete with bangles and a bindi.

"Everyone was gawping at me," she recalled.

Miss Richardson was also told MI5 had given them a choice of three towns to live in and she had to tour them, visiting shops, pubs, doctors' surgeries, and hospitals and then write an extensive report.

After Hendy-Freegard told her a sniper was targeting her home she crawled from room to room and spent every evening in the dark.

On his orders she took out two loans for him, for £6,500 and £8,000.

Each time he pocketed the cash, said his "MI5 superiors" wanted to see him urgently, and drove off.

"I was just waiting for him to say his bosses had given the word for us to live together," Miss Richardson recalled

"But he kept saying I had failed the tests and until I passed we couldn't even have a sexual relationship again."

Loyalty test

"This has all been so traumatically painful for me for so long now I can't even remember what normal life is actually like.

"I find the fact that I used to be a PA very hard to believe, that I could carry out that role, because there is no way I could do it now.

"He has totally ruined me, broken me.

"My confidence is nil.

"I still have nightmares.

"I keep seeing his face every time I fall asleep."

Miss Richardson also initially refused to cooperate with police officers investigating Hendy-Freegard, suspecting another MI5 "loyalty test".


Successful lawyer Caroline Cowper met Hendy-Freegard at the age of 34 when she traded in her £16,000 Mercedes and bought a £20,000 Volkswagen Golf from her local dealership, Normands, in Chiswick High Road, west London.

Caroline Cowper
Caroline Cowper rated Hendy-Freegard an "11 out of 10"

Unaware he had several other "fiancées", she soon fell in love with the good-looking salesman, rating his performance "in bed" with an "11 out of 10".

And when she discovered he had pocketed £8,000 of her trade-in money, he promised to pay her back once he had received a six-figure salary cheque from his MI5 bosses.

Hendy-Freegard soon borrowed another £1,500 and instead of paying her back took the money off the price of a desk he was selling her - after forging a receipt to inflate its price by £1,700.

He also persuaded her to give him cash for a car for a leasing business he said they would run together.

When the vehicle did not appear, Hendy-Freegard said it was being used by the "Polish mafia".

Miss Cowper treated them to holidays in penthouses around the world - and he stole almost £14,000 from her building society account.


American child psychologist and author Kimberley Adams also met Hendy-Freegard at Normands, at the age of 31.

"He said he was working undercover, infiltrating a very dangerous criminal network," she recalled.

"I had no doubt he was telling the truth.

Russian Oscar II submarine
Hendy-Freegard said he and Dr Adams would monitor submarines

"He said he needed to be violent on the job and boasted about murdering a man who had discovered he was working undercover and had threatened to expose him.

"So he shot him in the head.

"He said he was also present at a kneecapping, and when others held another person down and drilled into his skull."

Just weeks into the 14-month relationship, Hendy-Freegard proposed marriage but told Dr Adams she, too, would have to be a spy, resign from her job in Reading and be forbidden post and contact with her family.

He told her they would live in a Hebridean lighthouse for 25 years, monitoring Russian submarines in the North Sea, but she would first have to undergo various "tests" and have a new identity.

He also told her MI5 and Scotland Yard would examine and evaluate everything she had ever done and she must tell him about all her sexual encounters in detail.

He said he was going to kill Paul [Heffner] and that I would have to cut off his balls
Kimberley Adams

When she confessed she had kissed her landlord's friend after meeting Hendy-Freegard, he lost his temper.

"He was really furious.

"He said he was going to kill Paul [Heffner] and that I would have to cut off his balls.

"He also said I was such an awful woman it would be much better for my son to die than for me to be a mother," said Dr Adams.

"He said if I refused to kill my son he would have to bury him alive."

Hendy-Freegard also said he had taken out a contract on her and her son, who attended school in America.

He told her she had "sacrificed my son's life with my lies, and that by the end of the night I would be glad to be dead".

"I was completely terrified, physically shaking," Dr Adams, who still has nightmares about her ordeal, recalled.

There were, she said, many death threats.

Hendy-Freegard said Dr Adams needed to be "taught some humility because of [her] behaviour with other men".

He flushed her anti-depressant pills down the toilet and sent her to live with her "very humble" mother for three months at her then home in Worksop, Nottinghamshire.

When Dr Adams told Hendy-Freegard she did not want to spend 25 years in a lighthouse, he told her they would have to repay the state £80,000 as all the arrangements had been made.

She phoned her father, film producer John Adams, in Omaha, Nebraska, and asked for £20,000 to pay for "spy school".

He turned to his ex-wife Anne Hodgins, and his daughter's stepfather, who had recently won more than £11m on the lottery in Phoenix, Arizona.

Spy school

And the money funded a luxury 12-week European tour for Hendy-Freegard and his fifth "fiancée".

Dr Adams later phoned again saying Hendy-Freegard had told her she had failed spy school and needed another £10,000 to re-sit exams.

Dr Adams and her parents also initially refused to cooperate with police officers investigating Hendy-Freegard.

He had warned them such contacts would be either double agents, or MI5 agents testing their reliability.

Met Family Liaison Officer Pc Cathy Harrison said Dr Adams "was immensely traumatised and found it very difficult to accept her relationship with Hendy-Freegard had been based on a complete fraud".

Fake spy guilty of kidnapping con
23 Jun 05 |  Nottinghamshire
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13 Apr 05 |  Nottinghamshire
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22 Oct 04 |  Nottinghamshire

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