British crook arrested in Belgium, wanted by France

BRUSSELS (AP) — A British con man the subject of a Netflix documentary has been arrested in Belgium after fleeing neighboring France, where he injured two police officers, authorities said.

Robert Hendy-Freegard, 51, was due to appear before a Belgian judge on Saturday, the day after his arrest on a highway in Grand-Bigard, east of Brussels, Belgian federal police announced.

Hendy-Freegard had been on the run since last week when he hit two police officers with his car as he fled a police raid on his home in the village of Vidaillat in central France.

Gilles Blondeau, spokesman for the Halle-Vilvoorde district prosecutor’s office, said on Saturday that “about a week ago, the person in question had to be checked by the police and he fled. He also hit two policemen, one of whom was very seriously injured.

France had issued a European arrest warrant. The country’s prosecutors have opened an investigation for “attempted murder” of police officers.

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Blondeau said Hendy-Freegard was located by his vehicle’s license plate.

“East Flanders traffic police were able to intercept the man in Grand-Bigard, and it turned out that it was indeed this person and the vehicle sought,” he said.

The Netflix streaming service released a documentary this year called “The Puppet Master: Hunting the Ultimate Conman” about the life of Hendy-Freegard. In the 1990s and early 2000s, the scammer ruined many lives by posing as an undercover MI5 agent in Europe. He spent 10 years emotionally manipulating his victims into giving him their money, their trust and ultimately their freedom by running away with him, according to Netflix.

Arrested in 2002, Hendy-Freegard was convicted of kidnapping, theft and deception and sentenced to life in prison in 2005 in the UK. He appealed the kidnapping conviction and had his sentence reduced to nine years. He was released from prison in 2009.

According to the Netflix documentary, he had been living in France for the past few years, where he bred dogs.

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