Three men tried to take their own lives after false rape allegations made by ‘fantasist’ woman, 22, who lied about being the victim of an Asian grooming gang, court hears
- Eleanor Williams claimed to have been abused by a gang in Barrow-in-Furness
- She is to be sentenced at Preston Crown Court on Tuesday for nine offences
- For help, call the Samaritans on 116 123 or visit www.samaritans.org
Three men tried to take their own lives after false rape allegations were made by a ‘fantasist woman’ who lied about being abused by an Asian grooming gang, a court has heard.
Eleanor Williams, 22, was found guilty of perverting the course of justice earlier this year after accusing a number of men of rape and posting pictures on Facebook claiming to show injuries sustained at the hands of a grooming gang.
The post, made during the Covid lockdown in May 2020, was shared more than 100,000 times online and sparked national outrage, leading to demonstrations in her hometown of Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria.
But she was found to have made it up, with a jury at Preston Crown Court finding her guilty of eight counts of doing acts tending and intended to pervert the course of justice in January this year.
On the first day of her two-day sentencing hearing, Mohammed Ramzan, a business owner who was accused of grooming Williams, told the court his life had been made ‘hell on earth’ by the allegations.
Eleanor Williams sparked national outrage when she posted pictured of injuries she claimed had been caused by an Asian grooming gang
The 22-year-old faces being sent to prison and has a two-day sentencing hearing set to take place from today
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.’
Mr Ramzan 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 said: ‘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.’
In a statement read to the court, Jordan Trengove said the word ‘rapist’ had been spray painted across his house and his window was smashed after Williams accused him of raping and attacking her.
After he was charged following Williams’ claims, he said he spent 73 days in prison, where he shared a cell with a convicted sex offender.
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.’
And a second man, Oliver Gardner, said his chance encounter with Williams in Preston led to him being sectioned under the Mental Health Act.
Williams had falsely accused multiple people of abusing her, with a jury finding her guilty of eight counts of perverting the course of justice
Eleanor Williams posted pictures on Facebook claiming to show injuries sustained at the hands of a gang who had groomed, trafficked and beaten her. The post was made during the Covid lockdown in May 2020
Williams denied telling a ‘pack of lies’ to the police and the jury, saying: ‘I wanted people to know what was going on in Barrow, still is going on’
Mr Gardner, who was accused of rape after he met Williams in the city centre, said it was a ‘real shock’ when he was contacted by Cumbria Police and told of her claims, adding: ‘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, saying: ‘This whole period in my life has been totally overwhelming.’
Cameron Bibby, who was the first man accused of rape by Williams in 2017, said he had to remove himself from most social media.
He continued to say that because of the online abuse, he also became scared to pick his son up from nursery because of the way people looked at him.
He said after Williams posted her account on Facebook, his neighbours displayed ‘Justice for Ellie’ stickers in their windows, which ‘intimidated’ him.
During the hearing today, 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 statement, Superintendent Matthew Pearman said after Williams Facebook post, in which she published photos of injuries which the prosecution claim she inflicted herself with a hammer, there was ‘unprecedented outcry on social media within the town of Barrow’.
He said: ‘Barrow had not seen such public displays of mass anger for over 30 years.’
The court heard there were 151 extra crimes following the Facebook post, including 83 hate crimes.
Deputy Chief Constable Mark Webster said in a statement some businesses had closed and members of the community had left their homes because of the outcry.
In defending Williams, Louise Blackwell KC said: ‘Miss Williams continues in her allegations against the various people in pretty much the same circumstances.’
Williams was 19 years old when she claimed on Facebook she had been raped and abused by a grooming gang operation in the coastal town of Barrow.
Williams was 19 years old when she claimed on Facebook she had been raped and abused by a grooming gang operation in the coastal town of Barrow
She claimed restaurateur Mohammed Ramzan (pictured) had trafficked her since the age of 12 and threatened to kill her. Mr Ramzan denied ever having any contact with Williams
It sparked protests and led to former English Defence League founder Tommy Robinson visiting the town to ‘investigate’ the claims.
Williams’ trial, which began in October last year, heard she had accused a number of men of rape, going back to 2017, and told police she was groomed and trafficked by an Asian gang.
On May 19 2020, she was found by officers near her home on Walney Island with injuries which she claimed were inflicted by the gang after she was taken to a house in the town and raped.
But the prosecution claimed Williams caused the injuries to herself with a hammer, which was found with her blood on close by.
It was alleged Williams sent some messages to herself, making them appear as if they were from traffickers or fellow victims, and in other cases manipulated real people to send messages which she then said were from her abusers.
During the trial in October 2022, the jury was told some of the people she made allegations about were real, while others, the prosecution claimed, did not exist.
Her false stories had a profound impact on her six victims. At least one man told media he felt suicidal after being tarnished by the lurid accusations.
These included claims that she had been drugged and raped by multiple people since she was 12 years old, and that she had been trafficked to places such as Ibiza and Amsterdam and abused by men there.
Back then, Prosecutor Jonathan Sandiford KC compared the allegation with a scene from Liam Neeson film Taken, where the main character tracks down a human trafficking gang that had abducted his daughter.
Williams had claimed business owner Mohammed Ramzan had groomed her from the age of 12, and had put her to work at brothels in Amsterdam and sold her at an auction there.
But the court heard at the time she was in the Dutch capital, his bank card was being used at a B&Q in Barrow.
When confronted with evidence that she had been with her sister and her sister’s boyfriend the whole time she was in Amsterdam and the abuse could not have happened, Williams maintained her version of events was correct.
Restaurant owner Mohammed Ramzan, whom Williams claimed had groomed her from the age of 12, was arrested over her lies and said he and his family received more than 500 death threats.
He branded her ‘delusional’ and a ‘fantasist’ in court.
Amid heightened racial tensions one curry house had its windows smashed and a Muslim takeaway owner was chased down the street by men who poured alcohol on his head.
It also painted a target on the backs of the men she accused. One man saw his wife leave him over the claims, while another family were forced to move away from the town altogether.
It sparked protests and led to former English Defence League founder Tommy Robinson visiting the town to ‘investigate’ the claims
Williams is expected to be sentenced on Tuesday for nine offences of doing acts tending and intended to pervert the course of justice
On another occasion she accused a man of threatening to kill her unless she had sex with eight men in Blackpool, local newspaper The Mail reported.
But this was another fabrication, with CCTV showing she booked herself into a hotel and then stayed inside apart from a brief walk to the shops.
She accused another man, Jordan Trengove, of raping her – an allegation that led to him spending ten weeks on remand in prison.
He was finally cleared when police realised he had been in the back of one of their vans at the exact time he was supposed to have raped her – he had been arguing at a taxi rank when he was spotted by officers.
Evidence that she posted on social media, including messages from the men who were alleged to have abused her, were found to be misleading or outright false by police.
During her evidence, Williams denied telling a ‘pack of lies’ to the police and the jury.
Asked about her Facebook post, she said: ‘I wanted people to know what was going on in Barrow, still is going on.’
But the jury did not believe her, instead finding her guilty of making the claims up and causing her own injuries as part of a fantasy.
She had pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to one count of perverting the course of justice, which related to contacting her sister and mother with requests for them to take a hammer to her solicitor.
Williams, of Teasdale Road, Barrow, is expected to be sentenced on Tuesday 14 March for nine offences of doing acts tending and intended to pervert the course of justice.
If you have been affected by this story, you can call the Samaritans on 116 123 or visit www.samaritans.org.
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