NSW policeman guilty of making up assault

·2-min read

A police officer has been found guilty of evidence tampering after violently and unlawfully arresting a Sydney woman and then making out she assaulted him.

Anya Bradford was in a pub gaming room when Senior Constable Mark Follington walked in to check IDs and thought her "attitude" was like those subject of arrest warrants.

"She was keeping her eyes down ... that starts to send a signal to me that this person is trying to hide from me," he testified in March.

After stopping her from leaving and sparking a scuffle, the 61-year-old officer wrote a summary of May 2019 events to support three charges of Ms Bradford assaulting police.

Magistrate Michael Crompton on Thursday found the narrative was intentionally false.

Follington had no right to arrest and had in fact twice assaulted Ms Bradford, then aged 24, the magistrate found.

After the arrest, the officer went back to the pub to view CCTV but "having seen it did not assist him ... he began creating a false narrative to protect himself".

"He knew there was no assault in the poker machine room but created a false account in any event," Mr Crompton said.

Follington had pleaded not guilty to doing an act intending to pervert the course of justice, tampering with evidence with intent to mislead a judicial tribunal, unauthorised modification of a computer system and two counts of assault.

He denied deliberately concocting a false story that was used to charge Ms Bradford with assaulting police, testifying he filled out police and court documents to the best of his ability.

Mr Crompton did not accept that evidence.

Follington, who hugged relatives after the court's decision, will be sentenced in July.

Key to the case was CCTV showing the encounter from the moment Follington and his junior officer walked into the pub until Ms Bradford was taken away by police.

The footage showed Follington initiating contact with Ms Bradford as she tried to leave Liverpool's Golden Fleece Hotel.

When she was stopped from going to another exit, Follington shoving her in the back causing her to hit an ATM.

Mr Crompton said CCTV footage "clearly shows a quick and forceful push" by Follington, followed by Ms Bradford kicking him at a time she was being unlawfully arrested.

Ms Bradford broke free and was chased to the foyer of another building.

As she was led away in handcuffs, CCTV clearly showed Follington shoving his forearm under Ms Bradford's jaw, "forcing her head upwards", Mr Crompton said.

Like the shove into the ATM, the hit to the jaw constituted assault, the magistrate found.

Ms Bradford was not in the Downing Centre Local Court for the decision, but her mother told reporters the court's findings were welcomed.