Serial fantasist who lied about Asian grooming gangs and faked rape injuries with a hammer jailed

14 March 2023, 12:26 | Updated: 14 March 2023, 14:56

Eleanor Williams, 22, accused a number of men of rape and posted an account on Facebook in May 2020 alleging she had been the victim of an Asian grooming gang
Eleanor Williams, 22, accused a number of men of rape and posted an account on Facebook in May 2020 alleging she had been the victim of an Asian grooming gang. Picture: Social Media/Police

By Asher McShane

A woman has been jailed for eight and a half years for spinning a web of lies that she had been raped by an Asian grooming gang which led to three men attempting suicide.

Eleanor Williams, 22, published graphic 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.

Her lies led to a violent community backlash and some of the men she named in her fictitious allegations tried to take their own lives.

She was jailed today at Preston Crown Court after being previously convicted of nine counts of perverting the course of justice. She will serve at least half of her sentence in prison.

Williams made up names and doctored messages on her phone to make it appear she had been a victim of trafficking.

Eleanor Williams' trial was told she inflicted injuries on herself with a hammer she had bought from Tesco. She posted graphic pictures of her self-inflicted injuries online
Eleanor Williams' trial was told she inflicted injuries on herself with a hammer she had bought from Tesco. She posted graphic pictures of her self-inflicted injuries online. Picture: Social Media

She admitted she lied about being trafficked to Ibiza and also admitted she lied about being sold as a sex slave in Amsterdam - when in fact she was on holiday with her sister and her partner and had stayed in a hotel room with them and not left their company for the entire trip.

The judge said she had been through difficulties in her childhood and had been self-harming from a young age but had shown no ‘significant’ sign of remorse.

The "only flicker of appreciation of what she has done came today" when she read a letter apologising for her Facebook post, said judge Robert Altham.

Images have been released of the injuries suffered by Eleanor Williams, which were self-inflicted
Images have been released of the injuries suffered by Eleanor Williams, which were self-inflicted. Picture: Handout

The judge said there was 'no explanation' as to why she would have committed the offences.

He said “there is a risk that genuine victims [of sex crimes] will as a result of this defendant's actions feel deterred from reporting it.”

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Williams posted an account on Facebook claiming she had been the victim of an Asian grooming gang - sparking a furious  backlash against individuals, their homes and their businesses
Williams posted an account on Facebook claiming she had been the victim of an Asian grooming gang - sparking a furious backlash against individuals, their homes and their businesses. Picture: Social Media

After sentencing, Head of Crime for Cumbria Constabulary, Detective Chief Superintendent Dave Stalker said: “Whilst we have seen extremely serious offences committed and major investigations carried out in Cumbria, this case is unique in magnitude and impact it had and the far-reaching consequences which resulted from it – the catalyst of which was a singular social media post.

“It is something we are continuing to recover from in terms of rebuilding trust and confidence within our communities and with partners – all as a result of claims that were made maliciously and without foundation."

The allegations she made on Facebook led to protests in her hometown of Barrow-in-Furness.

In January of this year, a jury at Preston Crown Court found her guilty of eight counts of doing acts tending and intended to pervert the course of justice.

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.

Her 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.

Williams 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 Williams caused the injuries to herself with a hammer, which was found with her blood on close by.

She also sent 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.

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."

Three men tried to take their own lives as the result of her lies.

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.

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.

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."

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

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.

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.

He said: "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 because of abuse and was 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.

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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