Three men tried to take their own lives after false rape allegations that created an “unprecedented outcry” in a Cumbrian town, a court has heard.
Eleanor Williams, 22, accused a number of men of rape and posted an account of her abuse on Facebook in May 2020.
At her sentencing, which is expected to last two days, Mohammed Ramzan, a business owner accused of grooming Williams, told the Preston Crown 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 attempted to take his own life.
He said: “I still bear the scars to this day.”
Mr Ramzan said his property had been damaged and his businesses had been “ruined” after he and his family were targeted “in the most horrendous way”.
He said: “I have had countless death threats made over social media from people all over the world because of what they thought I was involved in.”
Another one of Williams' victims, Jordan Trengrove, was 18 when he was accused of raping her three times.
He says the accusations left him with complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
In a statement read to the court, Mr Trengove said the word “rapist” had been spray painted across his house and his window was smashed after Williams accused him of raping and attacking her.
He said he spent 73 days in prison, sharing a cell with a convicted sex offender, after he was charged as a result of her claims.
Mr Trengrove's victim impact statement was read to court:
My nightmare began in May 2019 when I was arrested. That month I was arrested three times, all based on false allegations I had raped Williams three times, and threatened her with a knife. When I heard what I was being accused of I felt physically sick. Not only my life but my family and friends lives began to crumble.
We had the word 'rapist' sprayed on the house and the window smashed. My mum had to leave the house because she didn't feel safe. I had to give intimate samples which was intrusive and embarrassing knowing I'd done nothing wrong. Then I was charged with rape, remanded in custody and sent to HMP Preston.
I was totally out of my depth and felt no-one was listening to me, being accused of rape and labelled a sex offender. My time on remand will haunt me for the rest of my life. I was put on a sex offenders' wing and was forced to share a cell with a man who told me why he was in prison. I felt sick.
I didn't feel safe to go in the exercise yard. My mental health went downhill. I was looked at like a rapist when I was not. When I was granted bail I was on strict bail conditions to live in Workington, miles away from my family. In August 2019 all charges were dropped but when I returned to Barrow I didn't feel safe. People looked and pointed at me. I felt alone and isolated.
Things calmed down a bit till the Facebook post put out by Williams. This led to a big protest and my name was linked to it. At one stage I attempted to take my own life. I've been diagnosed with complex PTSD. I no longer work because of what happened. I tried a job as a labourer but it only lasted a few weeks. I had to remove myself from social media.
I don't often go out in Barrow as I'm constantly called a rapist and a nonce. I have found some stability in my relationship with my partner. I have found it hard to bond with my child and stepchildren. Social services have received reports I am a sex offender and not safe around kids, but they have found no evidence and are no longer involved in my family.
I feel trapped in my own little prison. In the lead up to the trial I couldn't sleep and didn't know if I could face court. Giving evidence is traumatic and I broke down in tears. Since the verdict I feel the weight has been lifted and I can have some positivity in my life. I have had three years of hell and I know I will never fully recover. This will stay with me for life but I can now get help to move forward.
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, which “intimidated” him.
The court was shown videos of English Defence League founder Tommy Robinson attending protests at Hollywood Retail Park in Barrow in May 2020.
In a statement, Superintendent Matthew Pearman said after Williams Facebook post, in which she published photos of injuries which the prosecution claim she inflicted herself with a hammer, there was “unprecedented outcry on social media within the town of Barrow”.
He said: “Barrow had not seen such public displays of mass anger for over 30 years.”
The court heard there were 151 extra crimes following the Facebook post, including 83 hate crimes.
Deputy Chief Constable Mark Webster said in a statement some businesses had closed and members of the community had left their homes because of the outcry.
Louise Blackwell KC, defending Williams, said: “Miss Williams continues in her allegations against the various people in pretty much the same circumstances.”
Williams, of Teasdale Road, Barrow, is expected to be sentenced on Tuesday for nine offences of doing acts tending and intended to pervert the course of justice.