Woman who made grooming gang claims convicted of perverting course of justice

Preston Crown Court (Peter Powell/PA) (PA Archive)
Preston Crown Court (Peter Powell/PA) (PA Archive)

A woman who claimed she was the victim of an Asian grooming gang has been convicted of perverting the course of justice.

Eleanor Williams, 22, published pictures of her injuries and an account of being groomed, trafficked and beaten, on Facebook in May 2020, in a post which was shared more than 100,000 times.

A jury at Preston Crown Court found her guilty of eight counts of doing acts tending and intended to pervert the course of justice.

Jurors took three hours and 29 minutes to reach their verdicts following the 10-week trial.

Williams, of Teasdale Road, Barrow, stared straight ahead as the verdicts were returned.

She 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.

Honorary Recorder of Preston Judge Robert Altham adjourned sentencing to March 13 and 14.

He said before the trial he had been provided with information on the community impact of Williams’ actions: “That community impact was said to include some elements of tension within the community of Barrow.

“It included, as I can recall, at least one family moving out of the Barrow area and harm to various businesses.”

The Facebook post sparked demonstrations in her home town of Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, and led to former English Defence League founder Tommy Robinson visiting the town to “investigate” the claims.

Detective Chief Superintendent Dave Stalker, of 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.”

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.

Jonathan Sandiford KC, prosecuting, said the incident was a “finale” to a series of false allegations made by Williams.

In his closing speech, he told the jury: “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.”

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.

The jury was told some of the people she made allegations about were real, while others, the prosecution claimed, did not exist.

The court heard a Snapchat account which Williams claimed belonged to an Asian trafficker called Shaggy Wood was the account of a man called Liam Wood, who lived in Essex, worked in Tesco, and believed Williams to be a friend who lived in Portsmouth and was planning to visit him.

During the trial the jury heard evidence from business owner Mohammed Ramzan, who Williams claimed had groomed her from the age of 12.

Under cross-examination, Mr Ramzan asked Louise Blackwell KC, defending: “Don’t you think you have put my life through enough hell, or your client has?”

In what Mr Sandiford compared with a scene from Liam Neeson film Taken, Williams claimed Mr Ramzan 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 Amsterdam, his bank card was being used at a B&Q in Barrow.

Another man accused of rape by Williams, Jordan Trengove, told the court: “It can ruin your life and it has ruined mine.”

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.”