The sister of Ryan Giggs’s ex-partner has accused the footballer of threatening to “headbutt you next”, moments after he allegedly assaulted her older sibling – who she said “fell to the ground screaming and covering her face”.
As the trial of the former Manchester United player entered its second week on Monday, 26-year-old Emma Greville gave evidence against her sister Kate Greville’s ex-partner, who is accused of controlling and coercive behaviour during their relationship.
The sportsman has pleaded not guilty to the charge, alleged to have taken place between August 2017 and November 2020, and also to allegations of causing his ex-partner actual bodily harm, and the assault by beating of her younger sister.
The younger Greville sister alleged on Monday that she witnessed Mr Giggs, 48, placing his hands on her older sibling’s shoulders and headbutting her in the lip “with lots of force” during an argument at his home in Worsley.
She told jurors at Manchester Crown Court that she was looking after the couple’s new cocker spaniel puppy, Mac, while Giggs and her sister had dinner at a hotel on 1 November 2020 – by which point, Ms Greville said, the 38-year-old PR executive was planning to leave the footballer at a later date.
But her old sister messaged her saying, “Pack my stuff in the car, we are leaving tonight”, having earlier called her and said she was “annoyed” that they had been late for dinner because Giggs had “been out all day drinking”, the court heard.
When she arrived home, her sister was “visibly upset” and had been drinking but was “not stumbling”, Ms Greville said, adding: “She just told me she confronted him about cheating but didn’t go into detail because we had a tight timescale. We wanted to get out of the house.”
This included taking the puppy, which Giggs and his son had recently driven to Scotland to buy and had registered, chipped and insured all in the footballer’s name, following an earlier trip to view the spaniel along with the two Greville sisters, the court heard.
Mr Giggs also arrived some 15 to 20 minutes later, in a mood that was “not happy”, Ms Greville said, adding: “He was also very drunk.”
As an argument erupted over the puppy, Giggs told his partner to “say your goodbyes to the dog, you will never see him again”, a remark her sister alleged “was in a snide manner, that he had the power, that he could keep the dog when he knew the dog was Kate’s”.
Mr Giggs then accused his partner of taking his phone – which she denied – and tried to grab hers, saying, “if I don’t have my phone, you are not having yours”, her younger sister told the court.
“Kate grabbed it before he did and they were in physical contact with each other,” Ms Greville said, adding that after checking on the puppy, she returned and could “hear shouting, arguing, and scuffling around”.
“Kate was lying on her back and Ryan was lying on top of her. Ryan was trying to grab Kate’s phone. His face was in her line with her face. Her legs were more bent up and he was lying flat on top of her. From her facial expressions I could tell she was in pain,” she said.
“Kate said ‘get him off me’ so I put both my arms around his waist and as Kate was using her legs to push him off I was pulling … He turned to his right and his elbow touched my jaw and as a result I let go. Not in a gentle manner, it was a ‘get off me’ manner.”
Ms Greville said she was “upset”, felt “shock” and immediately called her parents for advice on what to do next, before returning to find the couple still arguing over the phone in the kitchen, during which point she said Giggs went “from annoyed to extremely angry”.
“He put both his hands on Kate’s shoulders and with lots of force used his head to headbutt her in the lip. She fell to the ground screaming and covering her face,” Ms Greville said. “Afterwards he told me it was my fault he had headbutted Kate and turned to me and said ‘I will headbutt you next’.
“I felt fear because he had headbutted Kate so why would he not do the same to me.”
Kate told her to call the police, as the footballer pleaded with her not to do so and said “think about my daughter, think about my career”, Ms Greville told jurors, adding that Giggs told her to think about her sister’s career and that “it would be in all the newspapers”.
During the trial’s first week, Giggs’s lawyers called the headbutting allegation a “ridiculous” and “nasty lie”, and said the footballer was not even aware that his ex-partner’s sister was in the house at the time and certainly did not elbow her.
In her testimony on Monday, Ms Greville told the court that the footballer’s behaviour before police arrived was “erratic”, but once officers attended the address he “appeared calm”.
Also giving evidence to the court on Monday, Giggs’ next-door neighbour Linda Cheung told jurors that a mood of “hijinks” emerged once the police had left.
The neighbour told the court that an “upset and distressed” Giggs had earlier knocked on her door and told her “that Kate had been accusing him of seeing other women and he wanted me to go and sort her out” – to which Ms Cheung said her exact words were: “Oh Ryan, not this again.”
She added: “He was distressed and I noticed immediately he had his slippers on. He said, ‘Can I phone the police, she’s got my phone, she won’t leave’. I remember holding my phone out. I said, ‘I’m not phoning the police, but you can use my phone’.”
Ms Cheung told the court that Giggs did not take her phone and instead walked back to his house, which continued watching from her windows even once the police had left after midnight, because she was concerned about Giggs’s puppy, which she said the footballer “idolised”.
After 1am, the two sisters and a male returned to the house and were “screaming, shouting, laughing, running up and down my drive” with the dog, Ms Cheung said, telling the footballer’s defence lawyer that “the mood was hijinks”.
Pressed by Giggs’s defence lawyer on Monday that Giggs and his children had “some considerable interest in the dog”, Ms Greville replied: “Yes, just as much as me and Kate. When both his daughter and son were at home he asked me to look after the dog as he didn’t trust them.
“I spent more time with that dog than Ryan and his children. I took the dog to the vet’s when it was poorly. I took the dog on walks, I did a lot with that dog.”
Ms Greville said that her sister’s relationship with Giggs varied from “loving to being very distant” but that, while swearing and shouting featured in their arguments, there had been “nothing physical” until that night.
In addition to the testimony from Ms Greville and Ms Cheung, jurors also heard from Kate Greville’s employer on Monday and were told the company had been forced to block “intense” emails sent from Giggs to his ex-partner’s work address.
Appearing on a video link from Dubai, Elsa Roodt – a co-founder of PR firm Q Communications, which hired Ms Greville in 2016 – told the court: “At one stage, early on in her employment, we had to call our internet provider to block Ryan Giggs’ email.
“It was intense and Kate couldn’t do her work … we had no other option than to try and block his email.”
When she started working for the company, Ms Greville was “very bubbly, very happy” but at one point “started to be very distracted” and seemed “a lot more worried”, becoming preoccupied with answering her phone and “being available at all times”, Ms Roodt told the court.
Ms Roodt also told the court that she had seen Ms Greville with bruises on her arm following two incidents with Giggs in hotel rooms, in 2017 and February 2020.
Speaking about the first incident, Ms Roodt said: “I asked her how she got the bruise and she said after the argument they had ended up having quite rough sex and the bruises were from that.”
Recalling Ms Greville’s comments after the second incident, Ms Roodt told the court: “She said Ryan had got physical with her the night before in the hotel room.”
The trial continues on Tuesday.
Additional reporting by PA