A disgraced senior constable who violently assaulted a transgender woman during a dramatic arrest in a suburban pub is behind bars.
Former NSW policeman Mark Anthony Follington, 61, was sentenced to two-and-a-half years jail on Wednesday over the unlawful arrest of a woman, and lying about it.
Anya Bradford was mentally and emotionally scarred by the assault while trying to leave the Golden Fleece Hotel in Liverpool in Sydney’s south-west in 2019.
CCTV shown to the court shows Follington grabbing Ms Bradford’s arm and slamming her head into an ATM before she was followed into the lobby of nearby building, where she was pepper-sprayed and tasered by another officer.
Mark Anthony Follington arrives at Sydney’s Downing Centre Local Court, where he was sentenced to two-and-a-year jail
Follington has always maintained his innocence and previously told the court he was suspicious of Ms Bradford’s ‘attitude’ in the pub’s gaming room.
He thought her demeanor was that of someone with an outstanding arrest warrant as she didn’t make eye contact with him and smile.
‘People normally come up and say hello, she was keeping her eyes down,’ he testified earlier this year.
‘To me, that starts to send a signal to me that this person is trying to hide from me.’
After he asked for ID and was told to ‘f**k off, he physically prevented Ms Bradford’s departure and shoved her into an ATM.
Follington then wrote a summary of the events to support three charges of Ms Bradford assaulting police.
But CCTV of the incident contradicted his story.
Magistrate Michael Crompton in May found Follington’s narrative was intentionally false and constituted perverting the course of justice and tampering with evidence with intent to mislead a judicial tribunal.
Anya Bradford (pictured at a previous court appearance) was assaulted during a violent arrest at a Liverpool hotel in 2019
Ms Bradford detailed the life-changing impact the harrowing ordeal in an victim impact statement.
She regularly experienced traumatic flashbacks and no longer trusted police
‘I spent a night in pain in a jail cell,’ Ms Bradford said.
‘Every time I see a police officer I get anxiety and a fight-or-flight response.’
Ms Bradford’s mother Elizabeth attended Follington’s sentencing on her daughter’s behalf on Wednesday.
‘Not all police officers are bad, but the ones like that, that do mistreat or abuse their power need to be dealt with,’ she said outside court.
‘In that regard, we’re glad of the outcome… it is what he deserves.’
CCTV shown to the court shows the moment Anya Bradford’s head was slammed into an ATM
She added her daughter was ‘thrilled’ by the sentence but remains traumatised by the incident.
‘[Anya] does see officers and she doesn’t, like you or anyone, you wouldn’t see them the same way,’ Ms Bradford said.
Key to the prosecution case was CCTV showing the encounter from the moment Follington and his junior officer walked into the Golden Fleece Hotel until Anya Bradford was taken away by police.
The magistrate said the footage ‘clearly’ showed the officer’s quick and forceful push of Ms Bradford into the ATM, followed by her kicking him at a time she was being unlawfully arrested.
Ms Bradford broke free but was caught in the foyer of another building, where she had a pre-arranged appointment.
As she was led away in handcuffs, Follington shoved his forearm under Ms Bradford’s jaw forcing her head up.
Mark Anthony Follington (pictured) was flanked by supporters as he arrived at Downing Centre Local Court for sentencing
Magistrate Crompton described the assaults as ‘quite violent’, adding that falsifying information ‘struck at the very heart of the criminal justice system’.
Follington, who was also convicted of two counts of assault and unlawful modification of police data, will be eligible for parole in 18 months.
His legal team indicated to the court they would lodge appeal against the decision.
‘There’s no “I’m sorry for what I’ve done”,’ Ms Bradford’s mother said afterwards.
‘That appeal to me is like a slap in the face… we’ve all seen that the proof is there – it’s just black and white.’
A claim for compensation will be filed on Ms Bradford’s behalf against the state over the ‘egregious wrongful act by police’, her lawyer Peter O’Brien said.
‘When someone gives evidence in a case like this, it can be at an enormous personal expense,’ O’Brien Criminal & Civil Solicitors’ principal solicitor said.
‘It is a very difficult and challenging thing to do because you are faced, as an individual, against the might of the state.’
Anya Bradford (pictured) has no trust in police following her unlawful and a violent arrest