Woman who claimed she was victim of sex trafficking ring accused of telling ‘pack of lies’, court hears

A 21-year-old who claimed Asian men groomed her for an international sex trafficking ring told a “pack of lies”, a court has heard.

Eleanor Williams, from Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, said she and other girls were made to have sex with men and subjected to violent and brutal punishments if they disobeyed their traffickers, a trial at Preston Crown Court (pictured) heard on Wednesday.

Jonathan Sandiford KC, prosecuting, said Williams claimed Mohammed Ramzan, a Barrow business owner known as Rammi, began a sexual relationship with her when she was 12 or 13 and groomed her to have sex with other men.

She alleged in 2018 Mr Ramzan suggested she travel to Amsterdam, where he put her to work in a brothel and then sold her at auction for 25,000 euros, although she was allowed to come home when the buyer could not make the payment.

The court heard that when police made inquiries into Mr Ramzan’s whereabouts at the time of the alleged trip, they discovered a “more mundane” story.

Mr Sandiford said: “They found his phone did not leave Barrow on those few days.

“They looked at his bank cards and in fact, instead of acting as an international human trafficker in Amsterdam, he was buying things in B&Q Barrow and filling his car with petrol in Asda.”

In July 2019, the court heard, Williams reported a “horrific account” of a trip to Blackpool, where she claimed Mr Ramzan was violent and threatened to throw her in the sea, telling her she faced a test to see if she could be trusted not to go to police.

Officers made inquiries after she told them she had been “pimped out” around four addresses in Blackpool and made to have sex with eight men, the jury was told.

Mr Sandiford said: “What police found was the detailed account that the defendant had given was a pack of lies from first to last.”

He said she had travelled to Blackpool alone and stayed at a hotel, where she bought a Pot Noodle and chocolate from a nearby shop then stayed in her room watching YouTube on her phone.

Williams was also said to have fabricated and manipulated messages and social media accounts.

The court heard a man called Liam Wood, who lived in Essex and worked in Tesco, was friends with Williams on messaging app Snapchat and used the nickname Shaggy, because his friends said he looked like the character from children’s cartoon Scooby-Doo.

Mr Sandiford said Williams created a contact in her phone for his Snapchat username, but indicated he was involved in trafficking her.

Mr Sandiford said: “By the time she had finished with Liam Wood, he was no longer that young man working in Tesco.

“He was Shaggy Wood, an Asian male who was a drug dealer; a rapist; a ruthless trafficker of girls and young women and someone who, with Mohammed Ramzan according to this defendant, had been violent to her, had threatened to kill her and throw her in the sea at Blackpool, before pimping her around four houses in Blackpool with eight or more men on the same day.”

The court heard that Williams was reported missing on May 19 2020 and was later found by police with injuries including a swollen eye and a cut to a finger.

Mr Sandiford said a pathologist examined photos of her injuries and found they were consistent with multiple, self-inflicted hammer blows.

In a brief opening statement, Louise Blackwell KC, defending, said Williams’ case was that the allegations she made were true, with the exception of her account of what happened in Blackpool.

Ms Blackwell said: “Miss Williams says she was instructed by Mohammed Ramzan to go to Blackpool. She was thereafter instructed by Mohammed Ramzan and a group of men to lie about what happened there.

“In all other respects the allegations she makes are true.”

Williams denies seven counts of doing acts tending and intended to pervert the course of justice.

Her trial, which opened on Tuesday, is expected to last up to 10 weeks.

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