A woman who falsely claimed she was raped and trafficked by an Asian grooming gang has been jailed for eight-and-a-half years.
Eleanor Williams sparked protests in her Cumbrian home town of Barrow after posting photos on social media of injuries she said were from beatings.
But Preston Crown Court heard she inflicted the wounds herself using a hammer.
Williams, 22, was found guilty of perverting the course of justice.
A two-day sentencing hearing was told three men Williams falsely accused tried to take their own lives after being targeted and suffering “hell on earth”.
One of them – Jordan Trengove – spent 73 days in prison, sharing a cell with a convicted sex offender after he was charged as a result of Williams’ claims.
The court heard he had the word “rapist” spray painted across his house.
Business owner Mohammed Ramzan, who Williams claimed groomed her from the age of 12 and put her to work in brothels in Amsterdam, said he had received “countless death threats” on social media.
Williams had given police an account of being taken to Blackpool by Mr Ramzan where she said she was taken to different addresses and forced to have sex with several men.
When police made inquiries, they found she had travelled to the seaside town alone and stayed in a hotel, where she bought a Pot Noodle from a nearby shop and then stayed in her room watching YouTube on her phone.
Meanwhile, Oliver Gardner said a chance encounter with Williams in Preston led to him being sectioned under the Mental Health Act after he was accused of rape.
Honorary Recorder of Preston Judge Robert Altham said Williams had experienced difficulties since childhood and had a history of self-harm.
However, he said her allegations were of the utmost severity and it was troubling there had been “no significant sign of remorse” and “no explanation why the defendant would commit these offences”.
Describing her claims as “complete fiction”, he said: “Unless and until the defendant chooses to say why she has told these lies we will not know.”
The judge added: “She’s gone to extraordinary lengths to create false accusations including causing herself significant injury.”
The claims had created a “state of heightened tension” in Barrow for about four months, he said, with police describing the turbulence as being like nothing seen in the town for decades.
Social media threats were made against the local force, the court heard, with a caravan of demonstrators travelling in vehicles from Barrow to Ulverston and back after Williams posted the pictures on Facebook in May 2020.
Protests were held outside the police station and on a retail park. Videos of an appearance in the town by English Defence League founder Tommy Robinson were shown in court.
Judge Altham said: “Police were under pressure from those who believed they were complicit in a cover-up on one hand and those who felt unsafe at the hands of vigilantes on the other.”
Before Judge Altham began his sentencing remarks, the defence read a letter from Williams in which she said she knew she had “done wrong over some of this” and was “sorry” but added she did not accept she was guilty.
She said she was “devastated” by the “trouble caused” by her Facebook post and added “if I knew what consequences would come from the status I would never have wrote it”.
She said “anything that happened in the community was not instigated by me and my family did not want Tommy Robinson in town”.
Mr Trengove told reporters he did not think the sentence was long enough and that he planned to take action against the police.
Meanwhile, Mr Ramzan said he felt “no sense of triumph, only sadness”, adding: “I’m not sure how the family and I are going to recover from this. Mud sticks and I fear it may take some time.”
Williams was found guilty in January of eight counts of doing acts tending and intended to pervert the course of justice. She had earlier pleaded guilty to one further count.
However, last month she announced she had launched an appeal against her conviction.
Supt Matthew Pearman, of Cumbria Police, said Williams’ allegations “could not have been taken any more seriously when she initially came forward” as a “large-scale investigation” was started.
“This has been a lengthy, complex and ultimately tragic case, as well as a dark period for Barrow,” he said.
“I hope that the full story, now it is in the public domain, will demonstrate that the police take allegations of sexual and physical abuse extremely seriously and will investigate thoroughly.
“I urge anyone who has been the victim of sexual or physical abuse to report it today. You will be listened to and supported.”
Source – BBC News