Woman guilty of 'grooming gang' rape lies which sparked Tommy Robinson campaign

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Eleanor Williams has been found guilty of perverting the course of justice
Eleanor Williams has been found guilty of perverting the course of justice

A woman who made up claims about being the victim of an Asian grooming gang has been convicted of perverting the course of justice.

Eleanor Williams, 22, made a string of allegations in a Facebook post which was shared more than 100,000 times and prompted far-right agitator Tommy Robinson to "investigate".

Williams published pictures of injuries that she suffered in May 2020 - but prosecutors told Preston Crown Court that she had caused them herself with a hammer.

As a result of her lies, demonstrations were held in Barrow and ay least one family was forced to move away, the court heard.

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

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

Woman guilty of 'grooming gang' rape lies which sparked Tommy Robinson campaignWilliams claimed to have been attacked by members of a grooming gang (Williams claimed to have been attacked by members of a grooming gang)

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.”

Woman guilty of 'grooming gang' rape lies which sparked Tommy Robinson campaignThe allegations led to heightened tensions in Barrow, jurors were told (bbc.co.uk)

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.

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.

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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.

Woman guilty of 'grooming gang' rape lies which sparked Tommy Robinson campaignFar-right agitator Tommy Robinson went to Barrow to 'investigate' (PA)

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?”

Woman guilty of 'grooming gang' rape lies which sparked Tommy Robinson campaignWilliams was convicted by a jury at Preston Crown Court (LancsLive/MEN)

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.”

Eleanor Barlow

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15.07.2024, 17:44 • Investigation