A 22 year old woman from Cumbria who lied about being the victim of an “Asian grooming gang” has been jailed for eight and a half years.
Eleanor Williams was found guilty of eight counts of perverting the course of justice following a trial at Preston Crown Court, having previously admitted one count.
The charges arose after she accused multiple men over a period of three years of raping and trafficking her.
The allegations resulted in a large-scale police investigation into crimes including human trafficking and child sex offences, and the investigation resulted in men being arrested.
The most high-profile of the allegations Williams made was own May 2020 – that she was taken in a car to an address in Barrow and raped by numerous Asian men, one of whom attacked her with a knife.
Williams uploaded pictures to social media of serious injuries she had sustained to her face and body. The impact of the Facebook post was enormous and saw protests against the police in Barrow and beyond.
However, Williams’ story was untrue and the evidence instead pointed to her injuries being self-inflicted.
Other allegations of rape and sexual assault were also found to be baseless. In some instances she had deliberately fabricated evidence, including creating a Snapchat account purporting to be in the name of a man she had accused of raping her. However, Cumbria Police detectives were able to show that the account was fake and had in fact been created at Williams’ home address.
When the extensive evidence of inconsistencies in Williams’ story were put to her, she admitted she had lied to officers.
Senior Investigating Officer Doug Marshall said: “It is important for people to understand that these were far from victimless crimes. Williams named specific individuals as being responsible for trafficking and abusing her – individuals who were found to have committed no such offences. In a number of cases, her claims led to innocent men being arrested by officers who, understandably, took such appalling allegations seriously.
“Williams had produced compelling evidence when reporting her abuse. However, as detectives investigated her accounts, they found evidence that Williams had not only lied but had concocted evidence to support her allegations including creating fake Snapchat accounts and inflicting injuries on herself.
“Cases such as this, where someone has invented crimes and concocted evidence, are extremely rare. What is, sadly, not rare is physical and sexual abuse against children and young adults. It occurs in Barrow, in Cumbria and across the country.”
Head of Crime for Cumbria Constabulary, Detective Chief Superintendent Dave Stalker, added: “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.
“That is why we are taking this opportunity to once again reiterate to the public our commitment to tackling sexual abuse in all its forms.
“I encourage any victim, whether of recent or non-recent offending, to come forward today. You will be liaised with discreetly and sensitively. We have a number of specially-trained officers to help and support you, as well as strong relationships with partners and voluntary organisations.”