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No howdy, eyes down was sus: accused cop

A cop walks into a bar, greets a seated female patron, is shoved so hard he loses his balance and is crudely told to get lost.

But Senior Constable Mark Follington now admits the story he wrote after violently arresting Anya Bradford in 2019 was very different to what occurred.

“At the time of writing this narrative, I did it to the best of my knowledge without having viewed the (CCTV) footage,” he told a Sydney court on Tuesday.

Follington, 61, has pleaded not guilty to tampering with evidence with intent to mislead a court and four other offences over the May 2019 arrest in southwest Sydney.

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

The court has heard Ms Bradford was metres away from Follington when she got up and walked out of a gaming room in Liverpool’s Golden Fleece Hotel.

Asked for her name, she replied “f*** off” and told police she didn’t have ID and that she had a meeting to get to.

CCTV footage shows Follington grabbed her arm to prevent her leaving the pub, leading to a scuffle in which the Crown alleges the officer shoved the woman’s head into an ATM.

Ms Bradford kicked Follington, ran off and was pursued into the foyer of another building, where the officer pulled her out of a lift, another officer used pepper spray and the woman was handcuffed.

Asked what had brought Ms Bradford to his attention, Follington said her “attitude” in the hotel was akin to those who have a warrant out for their arrest.

“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 Downing Centre Local Court on Tuesday.

“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.”

He also said it was suspicious that Ms Bradford and her friend were sitting in opposite corners of the pub’s gaming room.

Ms Bradford, who was not subject of a warrant, has told the court she went to the pub to kill time before a 2pm meeting in the building in which she was eventually arrested.

As she was led out of that building by police, Follington placed his elbow under the handcuffed woman’s chin.

But the police officer denied it constituted an assault, explaining he had no gloves and needed to move her face away from himself and other officers.

“Because she was affected by OC (pepper) spray, she was bringing up phlegm and I believed I was going to be spat on,” he said.

“She is struggling, she is trying to lash out, she’s calling me everything under the sun, she’s trying to spit.”

Follington said he’d tried to access the CCTV footage of the incident before charging Bradford.

But after being unable to view it, he took the advice of his sergeant and charged her based on his memory of the events, he said.

He also denied using the word “it” to refer to Ms Bradford when discussing the arrest with other officers.

“You knew the arrest was unlawful and you had to make up a story about Ms Bradford in order to justify the unlawful arrest and the force used,” prosecutor Claire Robinson suggested.

“That is incorrect,” Follington replied.

The hearing continues.

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