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A perfect storm and the fall of (another) fantasist: Eleanor Williams sentenced

Eleanor Williams

Louise Blackwell KC, defending Williams, said she "continues in her allegations against the various people in pretty much the same circumstances.”

The court heard there were 151 extra crimes following the Facebook post, including 83 hate crimes.

Eleanor Williams, who falsely claimed she was raped by multiple men and trafficked by a grooming gang, has been jailed for eight-and-a-half years. Three men tried to kill themselves after being accused by Williams of rape and trafficking. The men tried to take their own lives after the allegations were made by Williams, who accused the men of attacking her and posted on Facebook in May 2020 that she was the victim of such an operation. The 22-year-old of Barrow-in-Furness - the daughter of a Labour councillor who is also accused of failing to return £22,000 in donations - was found guilty of perverting the course of justice in January.

While there has been the standard outcry across all media that she will be released after just over four years, it should be remembered that the injuries Williams inflicted upon herself with a hammer indicate a great degree of mental distress. Halfway-release gives people in prison something to aim for, and generally ensures they are better behaved than they might otherwise have been while on probation for the rest of their sentence. It is also vastly cheaper than keeping people in prison at an average of £45,000 per annum.

In a statement, Supt. Matthew Pearman said there was "unprecedented outcry on social media within the town of Barrow" after Williams posted about her injuries. He said: "Barrow had not seen such public displays of mass anger for over 30 years." Louise Blackwell KC, defending Williams, said she "continues in her allegations against the various people in pretty much the same circumstances."

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 had been 'groomed' and 'trafficked'. 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 claw hammer, which was found nearby with her blood on it.

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.

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, 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.

In a statement read to the court, Jordan Trengove said "rapist" had been spray painted across his house. He spent 73 days in prison after he was charged as a result of Williams' claims. He said: "The lowest point was when I tried to end my life." On the first day of her two-day sentencing hearing, 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 also attempted to take his own life. He said: 'I still bear the scars to this day.'

Eleanor Williams hit herself in the face with a hammer in an attempt to support her false allegations of rape by a grooming gang.

The court heard there were 151 extra crimes following the Facebook post, including 83 'hate crimes'. Williams was 19 years old when she claimed on Facebook she had been raped and abused by a grooming gang operating in the coastal town of Barrow. It sparked protests and even led to former English Defence League (EDL) founder Tommy Robinson visiting the town to investigate the claims.

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. During the trial in October 2022, the jury was told some of the people she made allegations about were real, while others, the prosecution claimed, did not exist.

Her fake stories had a traumatic impact on her six victims. At least one man told media he felt suicidal after being tarnished by the accusations. These included claims that she had been drugged and raped by multiple people since she was 12 years old, and that she had been trafficked to places such as Ibiza and Amsterdam and abused by men there.

Prosecutor Jonathan Sandiford KC compared the allegation with a scene from Liam Neeson film Taken, where the main character tracks down a human trafficking gang that had abducted his daughter. When confronted with evidence that she had been with her sister and her sister's boyfriend the whole time she was in Amsterdam and the abuse could not have happened, Williams continued to maintain that her version of events was correct.

Amid heightened racial tensions one curry house had its windows smashed and a Muslim takeaway owner was chased down the street by men who poured alcohol over him. It also painted a target on the backs of the men she accused. One man saw his wife leave him over the claims, while another family were forced to move away from the town altogether.

Evidence that she posted on social media, including messages from the men who were alleged to have abused her, were found to be misleading or outright false by police. 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.' But the jury did not believe her, instead finding her guilty of making the claims up and causing her own injuries as part of a fantasy. She 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 the hammer to her solicitor.

According to ex-Justice Secretary David Gauke, a prison sentence is for punishment and rehabilitation, and the conviction is the actual punishment. The prisoner will have time to reflect on the harm she has caused, and hopefully receive the help she clearly needs. At the same time there are more urgent questions to ask about the Keir Starmer-designed 'believe the victims' policy - and subsequent 'victimhood industry' - of which it could be argued that Williams herself was a victim.

By Sean Bw Parker

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