The Puppet Master: The harrowing story behind the Netflix true crime docuseries

29 January 2022, 14:15

The Puppet Master is on Netflix now
The Puppet Master is on Netflix now. Picture: Netflix

By Jenny Mensah

The latest Netflix true crime documentary has left viewers stunned. Find out about the main figures in the tale and where Robert Hendy-Freegard is now.

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The Puppet Master: Hunting the Ultimate Conman is the latest true crime documentary to take Netflix by storm.

The docuseries sees the Cliftons tell the heartbreaking tale of their mother Sandra, who they haven't seen in over seven years after she left with conman Robert Hendy-Freegard.

The show, which follows Freegard's web of lies and the people he has destroyed in his path, also sheds a distressing but crucial light on coercive control.

As we continue to be rocked by The Puppet Master, find out more about the central figures of the documentary series and where they are now.

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Who is The Puppet Master?

Robert Hendy-Freegard (born Robert Freegard on 1st March 1971) was a British conman who went by the name David Hendy and pretended to be a MI5 agent while working as a barman and car salesman. He is the subject of new Netflix true crime docuseries The Puppet Master: Hunting the Ultimate Conman.

Who is Sandra Clifton?

Sandra Clifton is the woman at the centre of new Netflix true crime series The Puppet Master. She married her childhood sweetheart Mark Clifton and they had two children Sophie and Jake. In November 2011 she met David Hendy, who claimed to work in the media selling ad spaces. However, she hasn't seen her children for over seven years. After looking into her partner, Sandra's family discovered that David was actually Robert Freegard - a convicted serial conman who tricked his victims into given him money.

Where is Sandra Clifton now?

In 2015, Sandra's family tracked her down and discovered she was still with Robert Freegard. However, when her ex-husband Mark told her about Freegard's criminal past, she chose to stay with him and said she was already aware of it.

Two years later a top dog breeder Dianne Spavin sold three Beagles to the couple, but ceased to have any more dealings with them once she realised who Freegard was.

In 2020 Jake Clifton last saw his mother on Zoom for the first time since she disappeared in 2014 due to a court case where he attempted to stop Sandra from claiming an inherited house for fears the funds would all go to Freegard-Hendy. She was able to claim possession of the house in the end.

Where is Robert Freegard-Hendy now?

It is believed that Robert Freegard-Hendy still lives with

Who is Sarah Smith?

Sarah was one of three victims Freegard-Hendy convinced was being targeted by the IRA after he told them he was an MI5 agent investigating the IRA at their college. She became a victim of one of Freegard's most elaborate scams after her boyfriend at university, John, met him in a Shropshire pub. Freegard tricked Sarah into going undercover for 10 years, travelling across Europe with him and giving him her £200,000 inheritance.

Who is Peter Smith?

Peter Smith is the father of Sarah Smith in Netflix's The Puppet Master. Though Sarah went on the run for 10 years with Freegard, believing she was being targeted by the IRA, Peter never gave up on finding his daughter- taking the matter into his own hands and even employing a private investigator. The documentary shows him with pinned maps all over his wall and describes how he went to great pains to try and find her. It was a letter from Sarah's ex John which revealed that Sarah had gone on the run and why, but crucially Peter never gave up.

Audiences have praised Peter on Twitter, calling him a "legend" and some asking for him to be made an honorary member of MI5.

How to watch The Puppet Master in the UK?

The Puppet Master is available to stream now on Netflix.

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