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Last Updated: Tuesday, 6 September 2005, 11:42 GMT 12:42 UK
'Evil' bogus spy jailed for life
Hendy-Freegard
Hendy-Freegard had denied all 24 charges
A former barman who posed as a spy to trick his victims out of almost 1m has been jailed for life.

Robert Hendy-Freegard, 34, of Blyth, Nottinghamshire, persuaded his victims they were being hunted by the IRA.

London's Blackfriars Crown Court heard they endured years of poverty and carried out bizarre "missions" for him over a 10-year period.

He was convicted in June of theft and kidnapping-by-fraud. After the trial, police said he was an "evil" conman.

Hendy-Freegard used the cash he took from his eight victims to fund a luxury life of top-of-the-range cars, designer suits, expensive meals, and five-star holidays in Brazil and elsewhere.

John Atkinson, a student befriended by Hendy-Freegard

The former barman and car salesman, who worked at a pub in Newport, Shropshire, when the con began in 1992, told the victims he was an MI5 agent and that they were being hunted by the IRA.

Six of his victims were women, including a solicitor, a psychologist and a recently married PA who ended up leaving her husband and sleeping on park benches, surviving on a slice of Mars Bar a day.

John Atkinson, a student befriended by Hendy-Freegard, handed over more than 300,000 to him.

Judge Deva Pillay said on Tuesday Hendy-Freegard was "an egotistical and opinionated confidence trickster who has shown not a shred of remorse or compassion".

He lived a millionaire lifestyle while they lived in abject poverty
Det Sgt Bob Brandon

"There are substantial grounds for believing you will remain a substantial danger to the public and to women in particular."

The judge said there was a "heinous pattern of offending" against his victims, all of whom fell prey to his "devious charm".

Outside court, Metropolitan Police Det Sgt Bob Brandon said: "He [Hendy-Freegard] ruthlessly deprived his victims of many years of their lives by making them believe their lives were in mortal danger.

'Motivated by power'

"He lived a millionaire lifestyle while they lived in abject poverty.

"He was motivated by power; he was a sad, pathetic individual who achieved nothing from his life, but by pretending to be a spy he had power and control over people."

Judge Pillay imposed discretionary life sentences upon Hendy-Freegard in respect of two charges of kidnapping along with jail sentences totalling nine years for a catalogue of theft and fraud offences.

He said it would be March 2013 before parole would even be considered.

The 34-year-old denied all 24 charges, but was found guilty of two counts of kidnap, 10 of theft and eight of deception.

He was cleared of two kidnap counts, one of theft and one of making a threat to kill.




BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
How the conman convinced his victims that he was a spy



SEE ALSO:
Spy conman 'put me through hell'
06 Sep 05 |  Nottinghamshire
Fake spy created 'web of deceit'
23 Jun 05 |  Nottinghamshire
Bogus spy 'took students on run'
22 Oct 04 |  Nottinghamshire


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