Barrow in Furness: Young woman convicted and imprisoned for perverting the course of justice.

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I have been following this case for several years, probably since early 2020 when the people of Barrow in Furness demonstrated during lockdown in support of Eleanor Williams who alleged that she was a victim of a  rape/grooming/prostitution gang running out of Barrow and the North West.  Some abusers were Asian businessmen in town, others were apparently random men, young and English, who she met on-line.

Her initial allegations sounded plausible. Other girls also had stories of harassment by Asian (aka Muslim) men around town and as I said at that time “if the local people are concerned enough to protest en masse on more than two occasions, and they are the people whose daughters will report what might be going on threatening girls locally, then I have a certain amount of faith in their judgment.”

I still do; I don’t believe that everybody who supported the ‘Justice for Ellie’ campaign and displayed a purple elephant locally was implicit in Islamophobia or an anti-men agenda as it is being alleged on twitter. A useful tool twitter, but to be taken with a pinch of salt.  We know abuse went on in the past and was ignored and played down by many police forces and we know it is still going on.

Maggie Oliver was also initially supportive but as time wore on she expressed a feeling of discomfort about all the claims. Eleanor breached bail every time she was released and was therefore returned to prison. She spent a very long time in custody awaiting trial. Too long in my opinion, but that is the backlog and the modern court system. However her trial started in October. There was no reporting condition so the North West Mail reported almost daily and she was convicted in January, then sentenced yesterday to 8 and a half years imprisonment. The Telegraph has probably the least sensational of the reports here.

As I said, some initial allegations rung true. Others turned out to be easily disproved. For example she claimed to have been taken by the owner of a local restaurant to Amsterdam where she was to be sold at a slave auction. Forensic evidence showed that at the time she was to be sold her ‘vendor’ was in Barrow B&Q buying DIY fittings and she was sightseeing (albeit actually in Amsterdam) with her sister and brother-in-law. When challenged her response was that she sneaked out of their hotel room in the middle of the night, but when her ‘buyer’ failed to pay the deposit on her she was allowed home.  The night she said she was at a mass sex session in Blackpool, CCTV showed her at the Co-op buying snacks and then not leaving her hotel until the following morning.

Three men who were implicated by her say that they have attempted suicide (and thankfully failed). Certainly a false allegation of rape can and will ruin an innocent young man’s life.

Louise Blackwell KC, defending Williams, said her client maintained the allegations were true. She added: “Other than her personal vulnerabilities and her age there doesn’t appear to be any motivation at all.”

Some more imaginative people have said that she must herself be very vulnerable and tormented to have consistently made up so many allegations, over such a long a period. The Judge did ask for assessment of her mental state. From the North West Mail on Monday

Preston Crown Court heard forensic psychiatrist Dr Lucy Bacon had several meetings with the 22-year-old defendant, starting in 2019. Speaking as Williams was being sentenced on nine counts of perverting the course of justice, she told the court she believed Williams was suffering from the mental illness and had exhibited all the ‘essential’ symptoms. She said during their sessions Williams had opened up about ‘abusive and unpleasant experiences’ during childhood. . . The doctor said repeated exposure to domestic violence as a child can cause trauma.

She said Williams also demonstrated other signs, including suicidal ideation, engaging in substance abuse and having nightmares and flashbacks. Louise Blackwell, mitigating, said the psychological evidence was not being presented in an effort to reduce Williams’ culpability, but to provide a picture of the defendant’s circumstances.

The court heard in a report by another psychiatrist Dr Martin Lock, commissioned by the prosecution, he was unable to find a psychiatric diagnosis, finding Williams to have an ‘immature personality and a considerable amount of anger’.

Others view her as yet another wicked and evil man hating female and part of the feminist conspiracy against them.

It is certain that her case will make it harder, not easier, for genuinely abused girls to come forward in future, despite all the work to convince them to do so and assurance that they will be taken seriously.

I hope this reaction from a Muslima the week she was convicted isn’t widespread.

Eleanor Williams is the prime example of a white woman’s ability to ruin the lives of racialised and discriminated against minorities

I am kicking myself for not screenshotting it at the time, as I am sure I remember a reply to the effect that “women like her is the reason our brothers in Rotherham and/or Rochdale were stitched up.”

Or this one, from a Asian student in Carlisle to a Barrow grandmother.

You’ve been very quiet on this case as have most the other sheep who believed the lieing little trollop don’t you feel silly now?🤣🤣🤣

In June 2020 my thoughts were:-

I wish we still had old-school investigative criminal reporters who heard things themselves and could encourage (the most tactful word I think) the police to
i) find out who actually assaulted Girl X if it wasn’t an Asian rape gang. She didn’t achieve that level of bruising and cutting herself, or walking into a door. Then allay parents fears by charging him.  

The jury were satisfied with evidence that she did cause the injuries herself with a hammer which CCTV showed her buying in Tesco. If the jury heard evidence which I didn’t so be it; but I am amazed. 
ii) interview the other girls also making allegations. They can’t all be trying to pervert the course of justice?

One of those other girls also found herself before the Crown Court in 2021. In February she was charged with using threatening words but the case was dropped at Barrow Magistrates Court and she accepted a caution (ie go away and watch your step in future) Then in April she attended the Crown Court in Preston charged with the offence of blackmail and was acquitted as the prosecution offered no evidence against her.

She had spoken to Anne Marie Waters here in May 2020 about the level of harassment by Asian men experienced by teenage girls in Barrow.  The police were slow to respond and reply.

iii) ask around. Who else knows what? Somebody knows. Remains a basis of old fashioned investigative reporting.

The Cumbria Police insisted that

“If asked, is there an organisation of Asian men in Barrow conducting abuse or sexual exploitation against individuals our investigation has shown that has not been corroborated.”

Mohammed Ghulam Kibriya, then an employee of the Bangla Lounge in Barrow who was sentenced in December 2021 to a years imprisonment for preying on a 14 year old girl acted alone. Lone sex offenders will always exist.

But West Yorkshire police had made some arrests. From the NW Mail August 2020

THREE men have been charged in connection with a string of historical child sex offences.

The offences are alleged to have been carried out in Leeds between 1996 and 2008, with further alleged offences in Barrow between 2008 and 2010.

Shaha Amran Miah, 44, of no fixed abode, Leeds, who was known to use the name ‘Jai’, was charged with:- Rape, sexual assault, kidnap and two counts of witness intimidation in the Barrow area – Six counts of indecent assault and six counts of gross indecency with a child in the Leeds area

• Shaha Alman Miah, 43, of no fixed abode, Leeds, who was known to use the name ‘Ali’, was charged with: – Two counts of sexual activity with a child aged under 16 in Barrow.

• Shah Joman Miah, 34, of Warmsworth Road in Doncaster, was known to use the name ‘Saj’ or ‘Sarj’, was charged with:- Five counts of sexual activity with a child under the age of 16, two counts of false imprisonment and one count of sexual assault in the Barrow area. – Five counts of rape of a child under the age of 13, two counts of indecent assault, four counts of gross indecency with a child under the age of 14, two counts of sexual activity with a child under the age of 16, two counts of causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity and five counts of sexual assault of a child under the age of 13 – Leeds area

The men passed through the Magistrates for trial at Crown Court Preston. After delays and adjournments they were expected to start their trial on Monday 12th September 2022.   This was a month before Eleanor Williams’ trial started.

Except it wasn’t in the list that week. If the trial took place it wasn’t or couldn’t be reported. If the trial was further adjourned that wasn’t reported. If they were acquitted, convicted, sentenced, whatever, it wasn’t or couldn’t be reported. Or nowhere that I can find and I have been checking the news and the court lists regularly since September.

Eleanor Williams did wrong; very, very wrong. False accusations ruin the lives of those innocents accused, and as a knock on effect serve to protect those guilty of later unrelated crimes. Of her individual circumstances, the possible PTSD and the evidence presented in court I will leave to those on the jury who found it convincing, and the Judge.

But make no mistake, while prosecuting historic abuse is excellent the gangs continue to operate, and the authorities would love us to be unaware of it, for the sake of community cohesion and the rest.

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