NSW Police Officer Senior Constable Mark Follington, who violently assaulted Sydney-based transgender woman Anya Bradford at a Liverpool pub in 2019, will spend at least 18 months behind bars.

Warning: This story has details of a violent attack by a police officer on a trans woman and might be distressing to some readers. For 24 hour crisis support and suicide prevention call Lifeline on 13 11 14. For Australia-wide LGBTQI peer support call QLife on 1800 184 527 or webchat.

Magistrate Michael Crompton described the assault as “quite violent” and “in the mid-to-high range of objective seriousness for assault of that kind,” as he handed down Follington’s sentence on Wednesday.

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The court had while pronouncing Follington guilty said that he had “no reason to arrest her… or had no reason to suspect that she had committed a crime.” The court said the senior constable had created a “false narrative” and that his evidence was implausible and flimsy.

Assaulted And Tasered

Anya Bradford

The incident took place in May 2019 at the Railway Hotel in Liverpool, where police were checking IDs in the hotel’s gaming room. When approached by officers, Bradford said she did not have any ID on her and was unable to produce identification.

CCTV footage revealed that Bradford tried to leave the venue a short time later, but the two police officers prevented her from doing so. Consequently, a scuffle broke out near the ATM which left Bradford with a black eye and cuts to her wrists.

According to evidence submitted to the court, Bradford was with a friend at the venue and was due to meet with her parole officer shortly after. 

Bradford recalled the attack as she gave evidence before the court in September last year:  “He [Follington] grabbed me by the throat and pushed me into an ATM.”

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“I remember my head being slammed against an ATM multiple times… I was shoved in the neck with a taser.”

‘She Kept Her Eyes Down’

CCTV footage of the arrest of Anya Bradford in Liverpool by senior constable Mark Follington and probationary constable Mark Brown in 2019.

When Follington was pressed about what had brought Bradford to his attention, he said her “attitude” in the hotel was akin to those who have a warrant out for their arrest. Yet Bradford was not subject to any warrants at the time.

“When I was in the room, you could see I was focusing within the room, she had no eye contact with myself,” he told the court. 

“People normally come up and say hello, she was keeping her eyes down. To me, that starts to send a signal to me that this person is trying to hide from me.”

Follington was found to have falsified a police report and charged Bradford with assaulting officers and resisting arrest. 

Despite pleading not guilty to all charges in May, Follington was later found guilty to two counts of common assault, one count of tampering with evidence with intent to mislead a judicial tribunal, acting with intent to pervert the course of justice and modifying restricted data, assault and falsifying evidence.

‘Every Time I See A Police Officer I Get Anxiety’

In a victim impact statement supplied to the court, Bradford described how the assault had left her mentally and emotionally scarred.

Bradford said that she regularly experienced traumatic flashbacks and no longer trusted police. “I spent a night in pain in a jail cell,” the statement read.

“Every time I see a police officer I get anxiety and a fight-or-flight response.” 

Elizabeth Bradford described the 18-month sentence for the assault of her daughter as “a fair call” as she spoke to press outside court on Sunday.

Lawyers acting for Follington said he will be placed at greater risk in prison. “Once a police officer goes into the four walls of any institution… history has shown that police officers, because of their position, are the subject of assaults, serious assaults,” his lawyers told the court.

Magistrate Crompton sentenced Follington to 30 months behind bars with a non-parole period of 18 months. He noted that “On the evidence before me there is no evidence of remorse,” adding that the crime of falsifying information “struck at the very heart of the criminal justice system.”

Follington’s legal team have confirmed they will appeal the verdict.

If you feel distressed reading the story, you can reach out to support services.

For 24 hour crisis support and suicide prevention call Lifeline on 13 11 14

For Australia-wide LGBTQI peer support call QLife on 1800 184 527 or webchat.

 

 

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