This is a strange one. A very strange one I should have said.
Bogus spy 'took students on run'
A man conned three students into going on the run from imaginary IRA terrorists, a court has heard.
Robert Hendy-Freegard, 33, of the High Street in Blythe, Notts, is accused of taking money from his victims and forcing them to endure squalid lives.
Blackfriars Crown Court, London, was told he persuaded the three that he was an MI5 agent, their lives were in danger and only he could help them.
Mr Hendy-Freegard denies charges of theft, kidnap and threats to kill.
The court heard that in 1992 and 1993 Mr Hendy-Freegard was working at the Swan pub in Newport, Shropshire, close to Harpers Adams Agricultural College.
There he befriended 34-year-old John Atkinson, who was told he had been singled out for a mission investigating an active IRA cell in the college.
Mr Atkinson gave evidence that Mr Hendy-Freegard blindfolded him and punched him, saying he needed toughening up and to learn some control.
Two female students, Maria Hendy and Sarah Smith, were then persuaded to follow them around the country.
The three were told not to contact their families because their phones were bugged by the IRA, the court heard.
Mr Hendy-Freegard spent around £600,000 on holidays and expensive living while the three students lived in squalid conditions in a series of "safe houses", it was claimed.
Ms Hendy also began a relationship with Mr Hendy-Freegard and gave birth to two daughters by him.
Over a 10-year period three other women were also conned into giving him access to their bank accounts, the court heard.
Mr Hendy-Freegard denies four charges of kidnap, one of making threats to kill, eight counts of theft and five of obtaining money by deception.
The trial continues.
Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2004/10/22 15:32:27 GMT
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