Eleanor Williams: 'Fantasist' who said she was trafficked by Asian gang jailed for 8.5 years
A woman who falsely claimed she was the victim of an Asian grooming gang has been jailed for eight and a half years.
Eleanor Williams, 22, from Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, told police she had been raped and beaten after being trafficked by a gang of men.
But prosecutors said she had caused the injuries to her face herself using a hammer.
Williams was found guilty in January of doing acts tending and intended to pervert the course of justice.
She was sentenced on Tuesday at Preston Crown Court following a two-day hearing.
Judge Robert Altham's sentencing remarks were filmed.
He said Williams has shown "no significant sign of remorse" during her trial.
Eleanor Williams sentenced: Full story
Woman jailed for eight-and-a-half years after false grooming gang claims (Bradford Telegraph and Argus, 3 min)
The innocent men targeted by rape claim 'fantasist' (Yahoo News UK, 4 min)
Charity refuses £10k raised for woman guilty of false rape claims (Guardian, 2 min)
Woman's lies about Asian grooming gang left community in uproar (Telegraph, 4 min)
Woman who made Asian grooming gang claims found guilty of perverting course of justice (Sky News, 4 min)
Who is Eleanor Williams and what did she claim?
Eleanor Williams, 22, from Teasdale Road in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, was 19 when she claimed in a Facebook post in May 2020 that she had been groomed, trafficked and beaten by a gang of Asian men.
Her post was shared more than 100,000 times and brought a wave of attention to her home town.
There were a number of demonstrations, while England Defence League founder Tommy Robinson visited the town to "investigate" her claims.
Williams had posted pictures of injuries to her face on Facebook.
How was she caught?
On 19 May 2020, she was found by police 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 during her trial, the prosecution said Williams caused the injuries to herself with a hammer, which was found close by with her blood on it.
The court heard that Williams sent messages to herself, making them appear as if they were from traffickers or other victims.
In some cases, she manipulated real people to send messages that she then claimed were from her abusers.
The court heard that some of the people she made false allegations about were real, while others, the prosecution claimed, did not exist.
Giving evidence at her trial, Williams denied telling a "pack of lies" to police and the court.
Asked about her Facebook post, she said: “I wanted people to know what was going on in Barrow, still is going on.”
What happened at her trial?
Jurors took three hours and 29 minutes to reach their verdict following the 10-week trial, and Williams was found guilty of eight counts of doing acts tending and intended to pervert the course of justice.
Williams 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.
During the trial, the court heard evidence from business owner Mohammed Ramzan, who Williams claimed had groomed her from the age of 12.
Under cross-examination, Mr Ramzan asked her defence: “Don’t you think you have put my life through enough hell, or your client has?”
He said his family had received hundreds of death threats over the false allegations. He told the court Williams was "delusional" and a "fantasist".
Another man wrongfully accused of rape by Williams told the court her allegations had "ruined" his life.
Jonathan Sandiford KC, prosecuting, said: “The defendant goes online to her social media contacts and effectively finds random names on the internet she presents as being victims of trafficking or perpetrators.”
Williams claimed Mr Ramzan had put her to work in brothels in Amsterdam and sold her at an auction.
But the court heard that his bank card was being used at a B&Q in Barrow at the time she was in Amsterdam.
Detective Chief Superintendent Dave Stalker, from Cumbria Police, said Williams’ offences were “far from victimless crimes”.
He said: “Williams had produced compelling evidence when reporting her abuse, whilst her posts on Facebook caused uproar in the community, increased community tensions and negatively impacted trust in the police.”