The Puppet Master: Hunting the Ultimate Conman is a true-crime docu-series on Netflix. The story is about a conman in the UK named Robert Hendy-Freegard who controlled many individuals’ lives. The majority of his targets were women. He would take them away from their families/loved ones for years. Robert would manipulate the ladies into asking for a huge amount of money from their family members. He has been active since 1993 and still has someone trapped. There 3 three episodes of 30-50 minutes each.
The synopsis of The Puppet Master reads, “In 1993, Robert convinces his college friends he’s an MI5 agent. Decades later, a man named David exerts an extreme level of control over a family.”
Netflix’s The Puppet Master: Hunting the Ultimate Conman Review
In the first episode of The Puppet Master: Hunting the Ultimate Conman on Netflix, Jake Clifton and Sophie Clifton share how David came into their lives as their mom’s (Sandra Clifton) lover in 2011. The episode also features Sandra’s ex-husband Mark Clifton. For at least 3 years, David controlled the kids’ lives and manipulated them into staying away from their birth father. He also took away their money. What’s surprising was Sandra would happily obey anything her lover would say. One day, she also accused one of her children of stealing something valuable.
Simultaneously, there’s John Atkinson, Sarah Smith and Peter Smith narrating the story of Robert Freegard from 1993. Robert/Rob convinces John that he’s an MI5 agent and anyone who knows him are in danger. A scared John believes him and convinces his friends Sarah and Maria that they all are in danger. Together, they leave their college and loved ones back in Newport, Shropshire. They travel from one place to another for months and years with Rob. Just like Sandra, Rob would dictate what the trio should do and how they should get money from their families.
It took a lot of time for every family to understand that Robert Freegard/David Hendy is pulling the strings. He’s using their loved ones as puppets to take away their money and identities. He has been the one to control their lives for years or a decade. So at what point did the families suspect something was not right? How did they find their loved ones? Or did everyone find their loved ones? We learn a lot about this malicious yet clever conman in those 3 episodes.
The story of Robert Freegard shows how easy it is for someone to control another person’s life with convincing lies. One doesn’t even realise they’re kidnapped because they willingly decide to save themselves from the so-called danger Rob made up. As the story starts from 1993, the makers must’ve had a lot of information in their hands. But whatever is shown in those three episodes gives a clear picture of how menacing the man was. It helps us understand Rob’s victims’ pain and the distress the families were/are going through.
Even though the people in focus are John, Sarah and Clifton, the cops also discuss more of Rob’s victims. Even though they’re a lot, you agree with one of the officers that there must be many women whose story never came out. Despite being a chilling and intriguing story, Netflix did add a bit of dramatic effect by zooming in the eyes to show tears. Sometimes, the person on the camera would break down, and the scene kept going on for 30-45 seconds. I felt that bit was unnecessary as reliving the traumatic past isn’t easy for anyone.
The Puppet Master: Hunting the Ultimate Conman Review: Final Thoughts
Overall, The Puppet Master: Hunting the Ultimate Conman is a masterfully well-executed and well-narrated story of one of the UK’s most dangerous conmen. Whether it’s 1993 as Robert Freegard or 2011 as David Hendy, the vast timeline doesn’t leave you confused at all. Considering that Freegard is still freely roaming outside, no one knows his latest identity. However, at the end of the series, we learn that Robert’s aware of the series being made on him. His pics, crimes and style of conning are out to the world.
The Netflix documentary also raises awareness, especially for people in the UK. So it’s a must-watch.
The series is now streaming on Netflix.Instagram & Facebook to keep yourself updated with the latest news and reviews.