Eleanor Williams: 22-year-old jailed after falsely claiming she was raped by grooming gang

Eleanor Williams was found guilty of perverting the course of justice after claiming she was the victim of Asian grooming gang

A 22-year-old woman has been jailed after she falsely claimed she was the victim of an Asian grooming gang.

Eleanor Williams, 22, was sentenced to eight-and-a-half years at Preston Crown Court on Tuesday for nine counts of perverting the course of justice.

She falsely accused several men of attacking her in a made-up Facebook post in May 2020. She shared photos of her injuries - which were self-inflicted with a hammer - with the allegations sparking an “unprecedented outcry” and protests in her hometown of Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria.

The accusations led to three men trying to take their own lives after being falsely accused of rape.

Superintendent Matthew Pearman, of Cumbria Police, said Barrow had not seen such public displays of mass anger for more than 30 years following Ms Williams’ claims. The court heard there were 151 extra crimes following the Facebook post, including 83 hate crimes.

Deputy Chief Constable Mark Webster added that some businesses had closed and members of the community had left their homes because of the outcry.

In January, a jury found Williams guilty of eight counts of doing acts tending and intended to pervert the course of justice. She pleaded guilty to a ninth count at an earlier hearing.

In statements read to the court on Monday (13 March), Mohammed Ramzan, a business owner who was accused of grooming Ms Williams, told the court his life had been made “hell on earth” by her lies.

Eleanor Williams. Credit: FacebookEleanor Williams. Credit: Facebook
Eleanor Williams. Credit: Facebook

‘I still bear the scars’

Mr Ramzan, who was in tears as he spoke from the witness box, said two weeks after he was arrested following Williams’ claims he attempted to take his own life. He said: “I still bear the scars to this day.”

He said his property had been damaged and his businesses had been “ruined” after he and his family were targeted “in the most horrendous way”. He added: “I have had countless death threats made over social media from people all over the world because of what they thought I was involved in.”

Ms Williams, of Teasdale Road, Barrow, claimed Mr Ramzan, 43, had groomed her from the age of 12, put her to work in brothels in Amsterdam, and sold her at an auction there. But the court heard that, at the time she was in the Netherlands, his bank card was being used at a B&Q in Barrow.

Ms Williams also gave police an account of being taken to Blackpool, where she claimed Mr Ramzan threatened her and she was taken to different addresses and forced to have sex with men. When police made inquiries, they found she had travelled to the seaside resort alone and stayed in a hotel, where she bought a Pot Noodle from a nearby shop and then remained in her room watching YouTube on her phone.

Mohammed Ramzan, who was accused of trafficking by Eleanor Williams, outside Preston Crown Court (Photo: PA)Mohammed Ramzan, who was accused of trafficking by Eleanor Williams, outside Preston Crown Court (Photo: PA)
Mohammed Ramzan, who was accused of trafficking by Eleanor Williams, outside Preston Crown Court (Photo: PA)

In a statement read to the court, another Jordan Trengove said the word “rapist” had been spray painted across his house and his window was smashed after Ms Williams accused him of raping and attacking her. He said he spent 73 days in prison, sharing a cell with a convicted sex offender, after he was charged as a result of her claims.

He said: “Things had calmed down a bit until the Facebook post in 2020. This made things even worse for me. There were big protests and marches in Barrow. The lowest point was when I tried to end my life in August 2020.”

Fellow victim Oliver Gardner said his chance encounter with Ms Williams in Preston led to him being sectioned under the Mental Health Act.

Mr Gardner was accused of rape after he met the 22-year-old in the city centre and said it was a “real shock” when he was contacted by Cumbria Police and told of her claims. He said: “It was just a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.” In his statement, he said he tried to end his life before being sectioned and described this period of his life as “totally overwhelming”.

Eleanor Williams has been jailed for eight-and-a-half years (Photo: Cumbria / PA)Eleanor Williams has been jailed for eight-and-a-half years (Photo: Cumbria / PA)
Eleanor Williams has been jailed for eight-and-a-half years (Photo: Cumbria / PA)

Cameron Bibby, who was the first man accused of rape by Williams in 2017, said he had to remove himself from most social media platforms because of abuse and admitted he was scared to pick his son up from nursery because of the way people looked at him.

He added that he felt “intimidated” after his neighbours displayed “Justice for Ellie” stickers in their windows following Ms Williams’ account on Facebook.

The court was also shown videos of English Defence League founder Tommy Robinson attending protests at Hollywood Retail Park in Barrow in May 2020.

In a letter read to the court, Ms Williams said she had not instigated anything which happened in the community and did not want Robinson, whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, to come to the town. She said: “I do not agree with his views or opinions.”

In the letter to the judge, she said: “I’m not saying I’m guilty but I know I have done wrong on some of this and I’m sorry. I’m devastated at the trouble that has been caused in Barrow, if I knew what consequences would have come from that status I never would have posted it.”

Louise Blackwell KC, defending Williams, said her client maintained the allegations were true. She added: “Other than her personal vulnerabilities and her age there doesn’t appear to be any motivation at all.”

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