A New South Wales Police Officer has been sentenced to imprisonment for unlawfully arresting a woman and lying about the details of her arrest.
Senior Constable Mark Follington was sentenced to a minimum jail term of 18 months.
He violently arrested Anya Bradford at a pub in Liverpool in Sydney’s West in 2019 after asking for her identification.
She responded that she didn’t have any, and tried to leave the premises. As she did so, Senior Constable Follington grabbed her arm and a scuffle broke out between the pair. CCTV footage shows the police officer slamming Ms Bradford’s head into an ATM machine several times.
Following an internal investigation, officer Follington was charged with five offences, being:
- Tampering with evidence with intent to mislead a judicial tribunal, an offence under section 317 of the Crimes Act 1900 which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.
- Doing an act intending to pervert the course of justice, an offence under section 319 of the Crimes Act 1900, which carries a maximum penalty of 14 years in prison
- Modifying restricted data held in computer. Unauthorised access to data held in a computer is an offence under section 308H of the Crimes Act 1900 which carries a maximum penalty of 2 years in prison
- Two counts of common assault,, an offence under section 61 of the Crimes Act 1900 which carries a maximum penalty of 2 years in prison and/or a fine of $5,500.
In Sydney’s Downing Centre Court, Ms Bradford testified that she was tasered twice by Constable Brown, a junior police officer accompanying his superior.
And that after she got away from the officers, they chased her, pepper sprayed, kicked, handcuffed and dragged her, before arresting her for assaulting a police officer.
The junior officer initially provided a statement to the effect that he used a taser against Ms Bradford during a physical altercation between her and his superior, saying he was concerned for the safety of officer Follington.
The statement was consistent with that of Senior Constable Follington, whose statement also stated that the taser was used after the altercation became physical.
However, CCTV played in court told a very different story – showing that the junior actually tasered the woman in the absence of any aggression shown by her, or any physical altercation.
After seeing the footage in Court, the junior constable changed his testimony and agreed that Ms Bradford did not exhibit aggression and that the tasering occurred in the absence of any physical altercation.
The junior officer then proceeded to testify about his concerns regarding a conversation between him and Follington on the night of the incident, saying he was uncomfortable with the version of events entered into the police computer by the senior officer.
Despite pleading not guilty to all charges, officer Follington did admit to falsifying police records, which are a crucial part of judicial proceedings.
Officer Follington was found guilty of assaulting Ms Bradford during an illegal arrest and then falsifying evidence to “mislead a judicial tribunal” earlier this year with Magistrate Michael Compton finding that the officer had no reason to arrest Ms Bradford. He also found that the officer “charged the complainant with a series of offences to protect himself.”
The charges against Ms Bradford were dropped.
Suspended on full pay
Prior to being found guilty, officer Follington was suspended from the NSW Police force, with full pay. The junior constable was never charged and continues working as a police officer.
Civil proceedings foreshadowed
Ms Bradford is intending to file civil proceedings against the NSW Police Force which, if successful, will be paid out by the state’s taxpayers – not by officer Follington himself.