A former barman who for 10 years posed as a British spy and brainwashed his victims into funding his luxury "James Bond" lifestyle was found guilty Thursday of kidnap and theft.

Robert Hendy-Freegard, 34, who now faces a life sentence, conned hundreds of thousands of pounds out of at least seven victims.

In one case he persuaded three students they were being hunted by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) and he needed money to arrange their protection.

"It appears that he has spent all of his criminal proceeds on a millionaire lifestyle of Rolex watches, fully loaded top-of-the-range BMWs, handmade suits and shoes, and other everyday 'James Bond' expenditure," Scotland Yard said at the end of the trial.

Hendry-Freegard, who will be sentenced Monday at London's Blackfriars Crown Court, was convicted of 20 charges, including two of kidnap, 10 of theft and five of deception.

"Mr Hendy-Freegard was an evil con artist. He ruthlessly exploited weaknesses in any of his victims," said Scotland Yard detective Robert Brandon after the trial.

"When he started he'd be charming, he'd listen and listen, and find any weakness in character, any vulnerability, and then he would ruthlessly exploit that."

"When he had control of his victims he went to whatever ends he possibly could to take all their money and all their dignity," Brandon said.

In 1993, Hendy-Freegard convinced the three students, two women and a man, he was an undercover Special Branch officer infiltrating an IRA cell at their agricultural college in Shropshire, western England.

All three left the college after he told them he had disturbed the terrorists making a bomb and they had to go on the run to avoid the IRA killing them.

Police say Hendy-Freegard extracted more than 500,000 pounds ($915,000) over 10 years from the students' families after he told the students they had to fund a witness protection scheme, with the money saved in a separate police account and returned when it was safe to go home.


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