Woman jailed after false grooming gang claims
A 22-year-old woman has been jailed for eight-and-a-half years after falsely claiming to have been the victim of an Asian grooming gang.
Eleanor Williams, of Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, was sentenced at Preston Crown Court on Tuesday after making a series of false rape allegations.
In a Facebook post in May 2020, which was shared more than 100,000 times, she described being beaten, abused and trafficked by Asian men.
She also posted pictures of her injuries, but the court heard that she had caused them to herself, with a hammer.
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 sentencing remarks which were broadcast on television, Honorary Recorder of Preston Judge Robert Altham said: “It is troubling to say the least that she shows no significant signs of remorse.”
He said there is no explanation for why the defendant made the allegations, which he described as “complete fiction”.
He added: “Unless and until the defendant chooses to say why she has told these lies we will not know.”
Williams looked straight ahead and thanked the judge after he sentenced her.
In statements read to the court on Monday, three of the men Williams had accused described attempts to take their own life following her allegations.
Mohammed Ramzan, a business owner who Williams alleged trafficked her, told the court: “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.”
Williams 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.
Williams also gave police an account of being taken to Blackpool, where she said 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.
Speaking outside court following the hearing, Mr Ramzan said: “There’s no winners here today, I feel no sense of triumph, only sadness.
“I’m not sure how the family and I are going to recover from this. Mud sticks and I fear it may take some time.”
Jordan Trengove, who spent time in custody after being falsely accused of rape by Williams, told reporters he planned to take action against the police.
He said he does not believe Williams has shown any remorse and added: “I don’t think the sentence is long enough, in my opinion, for what she’s done to us all.”
Superintendent Matthew Pearman, of Cumbria Police, said Williams’ allegations led to “public displays of mass anger” in Barrow, with protests held outside the police station and on a retail park.
Videos of English Defence League founder Tommy Robinson in the town were shown in court.
In a letter read to the court, 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.”
Speaking after the sentencing, Mr Pearman said: “My biggest concern throughout this period has been that these false allegations would discourage genuine victims of abuse from coming forward to ourselves and our partners.
“It is important to note that Williams’ allegations could not have been taken any more seriously when she initially came forward. A large-scale investigation was launched and those she made allegations against were arrested and interviewed.
“This has been a lengthy, complex and ultimately tragic case, as well as a dark period for Barrow. I hope that the full story, now it is in the public domain, will demonstrate that the police take allegations of sexual and physical abuse extremely seriously and will investigate thoroughly.
“I urge anyone who has been the victim of sexual or physical abuse to report it today. You will be listened to and supported.”