Ryan Giggs had “a private life that involved a litany of abuse”, Minshull Street Crown Court has heard on day one of the former Manchester United star’s trial.
The 48-year-old has been accused of controlling and coercive behaviour against ex-girlfriend Kate Greville between August 2017 and November 2020.
He has been charged with assaulting Ms Greville and causing her actual bodily harm at his home in November 2020 and common assault against her younger sister, Emma, in the same alleged incident.
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Giggs denies all charges.
After a jury of seven women and five men was sworn in after lunchtime by Judge Hillary Manley, prosecutor Peter Wright QC said that Giggs was "idolised by fans" but "there was, we say, a much uglier and more sinister side to his character - a private life that involved a litany of abuse."
Mr Wright 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.”
The prosecutor said that “abusive acts of violence” were “interspersed with acts of kindness or contrition calculated to rekindle her affection or to forgive his excesses” and that meant “the relationship endured and the cycle continued.”
In relation to the alleged assault in November 2020, Mr Wright told the jury that Giggs “entirely lost self-control and deliberately headbutted Kate, causing swelling to her lips that would bruise and lead to some bleeding.”
Emma Greville then called the police but, the prosecutor added, Giggs allegedly elbowed Emma Greville in the face.
Mr Wright described Giggs as "manipulative" and the relationship as "toxic" and said that he would "harass" Kate Greville when she was out with friends. He would send messages and "threaten to send images... of a personal nature to her friends and work colleagues."
Representing Giggs, Chris Daw QC said that the defendants’ “moral behaviour [was] far from perfect” and he did not handle arguments in “the best possible way” but allegations of violence are “simply false” and he “never once used unlawful violence against Ms Greville.”
Mr Daw said his client accepts there was "minor and accidental contact" during the alleged assault incident in November 2020 but it was "not remotely a criminal assault." He added that the assault claim was "based on distortion, exaggeration and lies."
Earlier the jury was told by Mr Daw that Sir Alex Ferguson and Gary Neville will appear “in some way” during a trial that is expected to last two weeks but could drag into a third.
The trial had initially been scheduled to take place in January but owing to a backlog caused by the pandemic, it was pushed back. Then, a couple of days before it started, there were concerns of a further delay because traces of asbestos were found in the basement of Manchester Crown Court.
Judge Manley said that the hearing would begin at Minshull Street Court while tests were being carried out at Manchester Crown Court, with the intention of returning to Manchester Crown Court tomorrow.
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