Ryan Giggs headbutted his girlfriend after cheating on her, a court heard on Monday, as the former footballer was accused of having a “sinister side".
The former Manchester United footballer, 48, is accused of launching the attack on Kate Greville when she tried to end their “toxic relationship”, as well as assaulting her sister, Emma.
As part of an alleged campaign of manipulation and “obsessive behaviour”, he threatened to send “personal” pictures to her friends and said he was “scaring” himself because he could “do anything right now”, Manchester Minshull Street Crown Court heard.
Jurors were told by Peter Wright QC, prosecuting, to look beyond the glittering footballing career during which Mr Giggs won 13 Premier League titles, before becoming the manager of the Wales national team.
“On the pitch, his skills were abundant and a thing of beauty,” he told the court.
“Off the pitch, in the privacy of his home, there was a much uglier and more sinister side to his character.
“This was a private life that involved a litany of abuse, both physical and psychological, of a woman whom he professed to love - a woman who was treated in a way that cannot be excused or overlooked either by the adoring public or the law."
The case, he said, was a story “of control and coercion of a woman who thought she was loved and respected”.
“Sadly, the reality was very different,” he added.
Mr Giggs has denied using controlling and coercive behaviour against Ms Greville between August 2017 and November 2020, as well as assault and causing her actual bodily harm. He has also pleaded not guilty to the common assault of Emma Greville in November 2020.
'Increasingly obsessive, controlling and coercive'
Opening the prosecution’s case, Mr Wright laid out snapshots of evidence that he claimed threw a “shaft of light” on a part of Mr Giggs that “stays in the dark, not the public persona”.
He said the couple first met in 2013 and initially had an on-off relationship while he was still married. Ms Greville, 36, ended her involvement with the ex-footballer several times over his alleged infidelities with other women.
By 2017, they were in a more steady relationship and had started living together, but, over time, Mr Giggs “became increasingly obsessive, controlling and coercive”, Mr Wright said.
On one occasion, he allegedly threatened to send images “of a personal nature” to friends and work colleagues if Ms Greville did not do what he said.
At another point, when Ms Greville had blocked Mr Giggs on social media, he sent her a message with the header “blackmail”, said the prosecutor.
He also threw her belongings out of their house after she questioned whether he had been unfaithful, the court heard.
One message sent by Mr Giggs to Ms Greville said: “I’m scaring myself because I feel I could do anything right now.”
Mr Wright gave the jury a flavour of some of the “thousands” of messages the pair exchanged.
He cited one from Mr Giggs, which stated: “Please unblock me. All this blocking malarkey is poo. Promise, no more naked piccies.”
Mr Giggs also sent Ms Greville an email, the court heard, with the subject line saying: “C---!!!” and calling her an “evil, horrible c---”.
Mr Wright also said Mr Giggs would “harass her on social media when she was out with friends” and “threaten to do various things if she didn’t respond to her messages”.
Mr Wright said: “The emotional abuse was calculated to erode any sense of self-worth, any resistance, any independence of thought or action. It was abuse that was, on occasions, punctuated with acts of violence and volatility.
“It was, we say, a deliberate course of conduct by him, calculated to gaslight her into doubting herself and her instincts, to wear down any resistance she may show towards him and his behaviour, to make her pliant and compliant.”
Eventually, the prosecutor said, the “scales fell” from Ms Greville’s eyes and on Nov 1 2020, she decided she wanted to end the relationship while the couple were on a night out with friends at Manchester’s Stock Exchange Hotel.
She returned home ahead of Mr Giggs and asked her sister to help her move out.
Mr Giggs, however, returned before they could execute their plan and an argument ensued as he tried to stop her leaving, during which Ms Greville took his phone and Mr Giggs took her phone.
It led to the couple grappling on the floor, Mr Wright said, and, as Ms Greville’s sister tried to intervene, it is alleged that Mr Giggs elbowed her in the face.
Their row spilled into the kitchen and it was at this point Mr Giggs “entirely lost self-control” and headbutted Ms Greville, causing swelling to her lips and bruising, said the prosecutor.
Chris Daw QC, defending, told the jurors that this account was a “nasty lie” and there had only been “minor and accidental contact” between Mr Giggs and Ms Greville, while the defendant did not elbow her sister deliberately.
Mr Giggs stood down as the Wales manager in June following a period of leave since his arrest in November 2020.
Before proceedings began, prospective jurors were asked if they had any personal connections to footballing figures including Sir Alex Ferguson, the former Manchester United manager, and Gary Neville, the Manchester United defender turned Sky Sports commentator. They will both feature in the evidence at the trial, jurors were told.
The trial continues.
End of proceedings
That wraps things up for today at Manchester Minshull Street Crown Court.
Thanks for reading, and we'll be back tomorrow for day two from Manchester Crown Court in Crown Square.
'Accusations based on distortion, exaggeration and lies'
The defence accepts there was "minor and accidental contact".
But Mr Daw QC continued: "Those accusations are based on distortion, exaggeration and lies.
"He assaulted nobody that night."
He told the jury Ms Greville had indicated that she did not want to "walk away with nothing" from the relationship, and that she had been "planning her attack on him".
Mr Daw QC added that during their "childish squabble", Ms Greville kicked Mr Giggs in the face and body.
On the allegation of elbowing Emma Greville, it's the defence's stance that Mr Giggs was unaware she was even there.
Mr Daw QC said: "As to the deliberately headbutted her in the face, nasty lie, but a ridiculous one."
'There were lines Mr Giggs would never cross'
Mr Daw QC continued: "The pair of them behaved like squabbling children, each of them played on the insecurities of each other.
"Much of the evidence you will hear is - especially the emotional outbursts - is exactly the thing that goes on behind closed doors in relationships.
"Words said in anger may be instantly regretted.
"No matter how rude... there were lines Mr Giggs would never cross.
"Physical assaults and violence, the defence says, are simply false.
"He never once used unlawful violence against Ms Greville, the allegations are simply not true."
Mr Giggs fully accepts on moral level he was far from perfect, jury told
Chris Daw QC addressed the jury, outlining the defence's arguments.
He said: "Mr Giggs fully accepts on a moral level at times , he was far from perfect.
"He also fully agrees that he did not always handle their arguments in the best possible way
"Some of his messages on the night remarked by a combination of immaturity and completely inappropriate language."
'His popularity is not a passport to an acquittal'
Mr Wright for the CPS said: "Those messages contextualise their relationship and him fully.
"We say, a portrayal by him that is an invitation the same flawed lens of the abuser and is a deliberate distortion
"This was a turbulent relationship lived out in the public eye.
"There is a case of considerable press interested... but this is not trial by press or public opinion.
"His popularity is not a passport to an acquittal."
Messages from Mr Giggs revealed
Both Ryan Giggs and Kate Greville would routinely block each other on social media, the Mr Wright QC said.
When Mr Giggs was blocked, he would send emails in an attempt to make contact with his ex-girlfriend, the court heard.
Parts of these messages were read out in court.
Please unblock me, all this blocking malarkey is poo
Promise, no more naked piccies
Only an evil, horrible c— does that - astonishing.
Now I do an utter t— after telling three of my mates I'm going to Scotland
I simply cannot believe you f—ing did that
I’m scaring myself because I feel I could do anything right now
I actually hate you the way you’ve done to me today.
HATE HATE HATE
Mr Wright QC also said Mr Giggs would "harass her on social media when she was out with friends" and "threaten to do various things if she didn’t respond to her messages".
When he was blocked, which they did during spats, he would email her.
The Crown allege he would "threaten to send images of a personal nature to her to friends and colleagues".
Mr Giggs 'deliberately headbutted' ex-girlfriend
"Then into the kitchen", Mr Wright QC continued.
"The couple continued to argue about the mobile phone.
"At that stage entirely lost his self-control and at that stage deliberately headbutted Ms Greville causing swelling.
Emma Greville then called the police.
'They were grappling together on the floor'
Peter Wright QC then said: "In the altercation that followed, he pushed her to the ground, causing her to bang and bruise her arm.
"She was seeking to fend him off and stick up for herself as they were grappling together on the floor."
He then said at this point Ms Greville's younger sister Emma got involved in an attempt to stop the "violence".
"For her pains, the defendant, who we say deliberately elbowed Emma in the jaw, causing her discomfort," the prosecution said.
Both Mr Giggs and Ms Greville were connected to their phones 'umbilically'
The Crown told the court that both Mr Giggs and Ms Greville were "connected to their phones almost umbilically, such that being deprived of their phones caused serious acrimony".
The night ex-girlfriend tried to leave Mr Giggs
Mr Wright QC said that on Nov 2, 2020, Emma Greville, younger sister of Kate Greville, was at the defendant’s home in Swinton where he and Kate Greville lived together.
He told the jury: "Emma was looking after the house and their dog, which they both doted over whilst the defendant Mr Giggs and her sister Kate were out with friends at a hotel called The Stock Exchange.
"By that night she knew she had to terminate their relationship.
"She knew, yet again, the defendant had been cheating on her."
During that evening, Ms Greville planned to leave the hotel early, return home and leave Mr Giggs, the jury were told.
Mr Wright QC added: "In advance of the return home, she had informed her sister by text message of her plan of leaving before he got back from the hotel.
"The plan didn’t work, as she was vacating the premises, she took his phone as a bargaining chip in order to persuade him to stop letting her leave.
"He tried to grab her phone, and at some stage must’ve succeeded in doing so, because it was later found on a fencepost in the garden."
'Eventually the scales fell from her eyes'
Peter Wright QC continued: “Eventually after years of turbulence, when the scales fell from her eyes, she realised she needed to remove herself from his sphere of influence.”
Mr Wright said the result of this decision to break off, was the incident on November 1 2020, when Giggs is alleged to have assaulted Ms Greville at his home in Worsley, Greater Manchester along with the assault of her sister, Emma Greville.
Giggs is alleged to have “lost control” and headbutted Ms Greville, Mr Wright told the jury.
Police were called and she told officers of the “toxic” nature of the relationship, it is alleged.
Ryan Giggs 'gaslighted' his ex-girlfriend, CPS say
Mr Wright continued: "This was not a state of affairs that was arrived at overnight or by chance.
"It was a deliberate cause of conduct by him, calculated to gaslight her into doubting herself…to wear her down.
"It had a serious effect on her both physically and emotionally, something, we say, he would’ve realised."
‘Cycle of abuse’
The CPS told the jury that Kate Greville found out that Mr Giggs was cheating on her.
She left for Dubai, at which stage the former footballer went after her and they got back together, the court heard.
Mr Wright QC said Mr Giggs’ “abusive acts of violence” were “interspersed with acts of kindness or contrition calculated to rekindle her affection or to forgive his excesses”.
“The relationship endured and the cycle continued,” he added.
Giggs' 'sinister side to his character'
Opening the case for the CPS, Peter Wright QC told the court: "In his heyday he played locally for Man Utd and internationally for Wales
"He was idolised, and still is, by his adoring fans and supporters.
"On the pitch his skills were abundant and a thing of beauty.
"Off the pitch and in the privacy of his personal life and home and behind closed doors, there was a much uglier and more sinister side to his character."
He said that this private life "involved a litany of abuse, both physical and psychological abuse of a woman that he professed to love".
He added: "The systematic and at times violent abuse of a woman is what this case is all about, while all the time preying on her vulnerabilities for his own gratification."
Ryan Giggs' ex-girlfriend will give evidence from behind screen
The judge told the jury at Manchester Crown Court that Kate Greville will give evidence from behind a screen so that she will only be visible to herself, the jury and the barrister questioning her.
'No Googling about this case'
Judge Hilary Manley has warned the jury they may be sent to jail if they research the Ryan Giggs case online.
She told the panel: "It's very likely material on the internet about this case. You can and must avoid anything like that... it can only cause problems.
"It's a natural reaction for all of us to reach for Google for so many things, but no googling about anything at all to do with this case."
Jury told not to form a WhatsApp group together
The jury have been told by Judge Hilary Manley not to contact each other on social media during the trial, which is scheduled to run for two weeks.
She specifically said "no chatting about the case on Facebook or WhatsApp or any other messaging service".
The judge also warned them against forming a WhatsApp group, and only to discuss the evidence together in their jury room.
A jury of seven women and five men will sit for this trial.
Sir Alex Ferguson and Gary Neville will appear "in some way' during trial
The jury have been read out a number of names who will form parts of the evidence involved in the trial.
Defending Ryan Giggs, Chris Daw QC told the jury panel that the legendary football manager Sir Alex Ferguson and Mr Giggs' former teammate Gary Neville will be heard from "in some way".
Entire jury panel squeeze into courtroom to be addressed by judge
All 24 potential jury members entered the court.
Twelve jurors were able to sit down, but owing to the bulky dock dominating the centre of court room seven, the other half of the panel were forced to stand at the side of the benches.
Ryan Giggs re-enters dock for the fourth time today
For the first time, the former footballer glanced behind him to glimpse at a sea of journalists in the press benches.
It is expected that after the jury is sworn in, prosecutor Peter Wright QC will begin his opening on behalf of the CPS.
Trial adjourned until 2pm
Judge Hilary Manley has adjourned the case until 2pm, telling the court: “Unfortunately, we are experiencing delays getting a jury together.”
She said that she wishes to speak to the jury as a panel before getting them sworn in, and did not want there to be a gap for lunch between those two elements.
Ryan Giggs chats to security guard as court waits for judge
The former footballer entered the dock for a third time at 12.16pm, as legal representatives from the Crown Prosecution Service and the defence filed into court.
As we waited for Judge Hilary Manley and the jury, Ryan Giggs appeared relaxed as he turned in his seat to have a lengthy conversation with a security officer, who had been escorting him in and out of the dock.
The guard could be seen smiling a number of times during their exchange.
The pair - the only two people in the dock - spoke for 10 minutes before the former footballer took a sip of water and surveyed the court, shuffling in his chair.
More delays as case adjourned until midday
In what has become a constant for this trial, there is yet another delay.
It was scheduled to start at 10.30am, but now the jury - who are being selected elsewhere in the building - aren't expected to enter courtroom seven until midday.
Mr Giggs has been in and out of the dock twice since just before 11am.
Judge Hilary Manley spoke to Peter Wright QC, prosecuting and Chris Daw QC, defending Mr Giggs, and the former footballer listened intently.
He only spoke once to confirm to the judge he was Ryan Joseph Giggs.
Ryan Giggs enters the dock
Journalists have piled into the courtroom at Manchester Crown Court.
A short time later, Ryan Giggs entered the dock, dressed in a dark navy suit, and after looking around the courtroom, took a seat.
We now await the judge and the jury.
Ryan Giggs' arrival, in pictures
The trial was meant to get underway at 10.30am here at Manchester Minshull Street Crown Court, but there are matters in the chamber of court room seven that need to be dealt with first.
Once those have been addressed, the jury will be sworn in.
Who is Ryan Giggs?
Ryan Giggs was born in the Canton area of Cardiff in South Wales, and burst onto the football scene as a livewire winger for Manchester United and his country.
After a stint with city rivals Manchester City as a junior between 1985 and 1987, he switched to the red side of Manchester and played for United's youth team between 1987 and 1990.
He then graduated to the senior setup and under the tuition of Sir Alex Ferguson, went on to play 672 games for the club, scoring 114 goals.
The left-footed midfielder made his international debut for Wales as a 17-year-old in 1991, and would play 64 games for his country.
Mr Giggs won a haul of honours during his career, including 34 trophies, BBC Sports Personality of the Year in 2009, PFA Young Player of the Year twice and he was awarded an OBE in the Queen's 2007 Birthday Honours List for his services to football.
After finishing his playing career, the former footballer went into management and took over as interim boss at Manchester United when David Moyes was sacked in 2014.
When Dutchman Louis van Gaal was appointed as Moyes' successor, Mr Giggs became assistant manager at the club - a role he held for two years.
In 2018, Wales appointed Mr Giggs as the country's manager, taking over from Chris Coleman.
But when he was arrested in November 2020, he relinquished his role to Rob Page, who became caretaker boss of the national side.
Under Page, Wales qualified for their first world cup 1958, and Mr Giggs quit as Wales manager, saying it was "only right" that his successor took the job on a full-time basis.
The delayed trial and the asbestos drama
This trial had initially been scheduled to take place in January, but owing to the huge backlog at Manchester Crown Court caused by the pandemic, it was one that got pushed back.
Last week there were fears that it would be delayed further after traces of asbestos were found in the basement of the court.
But in a hearing on Thursday, Judge Hilary Manley said the hearing will start at Manchester Minshull Street Court before it switches to Manchester Crown Court the following day for the remainder of the trial.
Manchester Crown Court is currently closed due to testing for asbestos.
Mr Giggs arrives at court
A media scrum surrounds Ryan Giggs as he arrives at Manchester Crown Court for the start of his trial.