The 48-year-old is accused of headbutting former lover Kate Greville and elbowing her younger sister Emma in the jaw during a violent final confrontation at the end of the “toxic, damaging” relationship.
Giggs, the ex-Wales national manager, faces claims he threw Ms Greville out of the home they shared in Greater Manchester, bombarded her with messages when she ignored him, and once told her in a foul-mouthed message: “I’m scaring myself, I could do anything”.
Prosecutor Peter Wright QC said the mesasages throw a “shaft of light on the real Ryan Giggs, who sits in the dock today”.
“This is a story of control and coercion of a woman who thought she was loved and respected. Sadly the reality was very different”, he told Manchester Minshull Street crown court.
“In his heyday he played locally for Manchester United. He was idolised and still is, by adoring fans and supporters. On the pich his skills were abundant and a thing of beauty.
“Off the pitch and in the privacy of his own personal life, home, and behind closed doors, there was – we say, as the facts of this case reveal – a much uglier and more sinister side to his character.
“This, we say, was a private life that involved a litany of abuse, both physical and psychological, of a woman he professed to love. A woman who in reality was treated in a way that can’t be excused or overlooked by either the adoring public or the law.”
Giggs is charged with assaulting Ms Greville and her sister at his home in Worsley, Greater Manchester, and engaging in controlling and coercive behaviour between August 2017 and November 2020.
Mr Wright said Giggs had a “volatile” on-off relationship with the PR professional that was punctuated by incidents when the ex-footballer was accused of cheating.
He said Giggs “became increasingly abusive, controlling and coercive” as the relationship wore on, in a “seemingly endless cycle of emotional and on occasions physical abuse”.
“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”, he said.
“We say it was a deliberate course of conduct by him, calculated to gaslight her into doubting herself and her instincts, to wear down any resistence she may show to him and his behaviour to make her pliant and complaint.”
Giggs is accused of “harassing” Ms Greville on social media when they went through a break-up and she blocked him, and threatening to send intimate pictures of her to friends.
The court heard one messages sent by Giggs was titled “blackmail”, while another contained a reference to “nude piccies”.
“He would threaten to send images of her of a personal nature”, said Mr Wright.
“He physically threw her and her belongings out of the address they were in when she challenged him about his relationships with other women.
“At a hotel in London, he assaulted her and threw an item at her. When she made various attempts to break off the relationship, he would send harassing messages. Turn up unwanted at her home in Manchester, or at her gym.
“This wasn’t an expression of love, this was obssessive behaviour by him to get what he wanted.”
The incident that brought police into the case occurred on November 1, 2020, when Ms Greville decided to leave Giggs and returned home where her sister was dog-sitting for the couple.
“Eventually after years of turbulence, when the scales fell from her eyes, she realised she needed to remove herself from his sphere of influence”, said Mr Wright.
Giggs returned home and a “heated” row ensued, jurors heard, when he took Ms Greville’s phone and she seized hold of his phone.
Mr Wright said they eventually ended up “grappling” on the ground, and Emma Greville “tried to pull the defendant off her sister”.
“For her pains the defendant, we say, deliberately elbowed her in the jaw causing her discomfort and shock that he would turn violence on to her as well her sister”, he said.
“The argument between the defendant and Kate Greville moved to the kitchen. The couple continued to argue about her mobile phone.
“At that stage, we say, the defendant entirely lost self-control and he deliberately headbutted Kate, thereby causing swelling to her lips and bruising. Emma then called the police, who attended the premises.”
Giggs blames the incident on a “clash of heads”, the court heard, and denies assaulting her sister, calling the report to police “distortion, exaggeration and lies.”
He has accepted being “far from perfect” in the relationship, but denies any incidents of violence and says some allegations levelled against him by Ms Greville are false.
Chris Daw QC, for Giggs, told jurors the former winger accepts he did not handle arguments “in the best possible way”, but insisted: “There were lines that Mr Giggs would never cross”.
“He never once used unlawful violence against Ms Greville during the course of their relationship, no matter how bad things got”, said Mr Daw.
“His defence to the assaults is simple. Those accusations are based on distortion, exaggerations and lies. He assaulted no-one.
“In the weeks before, Kate Greville said to her friends that she was determined not to walk away from the relationship with nothing.”
He said Giggs and Ms Greville both tripped and fell to the floor in the kitchen at his home in Worsley, Greater Manchester, in November 2020 and she kicked him in the face as he tried to disentangle himself.
Mr Daw said Giggs was not even aware that the complainant’s sister was in the house at the time and certainly did not elbow her, as alleged.
The alleged headbutt was “not only a nasty lie but a ridiculous one”, he said, as the evidence will show there was mere “minor and accidental contact” between their faces.
He went on: “In stark contrast to the picture painted by Ms Greville, Mr Giggs did not control or coerce at all.”
Jurors have been told that former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, Giggs’ friend and ex-teammate Gary Neville, sister Stacey Giggs and new partner Zara Charles are likely to feature in the evidence.
Giggs originally stepped back from his role as Wales international football manager to fight the allegations, but quit the job entirely in June, saying he wanted to allow the team to prepare for the World Cup in Qatar with “certainty, clarification and without speculation”.
During Giggs’ time at Old Trafford, Manchester United won 13 Premier League titles, two Champions League trophies, four FA Cups and three League Cups. He won 64 caps for Wales and is co-owner of League Two side Salford City.
Giggs is on bail with conditions not to contact Ms Greville or her sister. The trial continues.
He denies using controlling and coercive behaviour against Ms Greville between August 2017 and November 2020, and has also pleaded not guilty to assault occasioning actual bodily harm and common assault.