Ryan Giggs is facing a possible retrial in June next year after a jury failed to reach verdicts on charges of assault and controlling behaviour.
Giggs, 48, had been on trial for four weeks accused of deliberately head-butting his former girlfriend, Kate Greville, and elbowing her younger sister in the face during an argument at his home in Greater Manchester on 1 November 2020.
He was also accused of using coercive and controlling behaviour against Greville, 38, over a period of three years from 2017 to 2020.
But the jury was discharged on Wednesday after failing to reach verdicts during 23 hours of deliberations.
The former Manchester United and Wales footballer had denied all three charges and protested his innocence at Manchester crown court.
Giggs bowed his head as the jury foreman told the judge, Hilary Manley, that there was “no reasonable prospect” of them reaching verdicts if they were given more time.
The Crown Prosecution Service has been given seven days to decide whether to seek a retrial. Any trial would not happen until June next year at the earliest, Manley said.
Giggs made no comment as he left the court, flanked by his legal team, within minutes of the jury being discharged.
His mother, Lynne Johnson, appeared dismayed and shook her head in the public gallery, where she had sat throughout the 16-day trial. Outside court she said her son’s life was still “on hold”.
The former Wales manager, who has spent almost 22 months on bail, was told he will learn next Wednesday whether he will face a second trial.
The trial heard how Giggs was accused of deliberately head-butting Greville after elbowing her younger sister, Emma Greville, in the face during a scuffle over a mobile phone.
The incident at Giggs’s £1.7m home brought to an end a six-year on-off relationship that Greville said became “utter hell” during Covid-19 lockdown in 2020.
Greville, a PR executive, said she became “a slave to his every need” and that Giggs “made me feel like I had to do what he said, otherwise there were consequences”.
The former footballer insisted that he had never been violent to any woman, or used coercive or controlling behaviour against them. His barrister, Chris Daw QC, has said the allegations were based on “distortion, exaggeration and lies”.
Giggs broke down in tears during the trial when he told jurors that spending a night in the police cells was “the worst experience of [his] life”.
He said he was “confused and scared” after being arrested by police after the altercation on 1 November, when he claimed he did not intentionally head-butt Greville but that they “clashed heads”.
Shortly after being sent out to deliberate eight days ago, the jury asked judge Manley whether they could attribute recklessness to the charge of actual bodily harm against Giggs. Manley told jurors that they could not and that they had to be sure the act was intentional in order to find him guilty.
Giggs began his evidence in court by telling jurors that he had not been faithful in any of his relationships with women, including his ex-wife Stacey Giggs. But he said he had never been violent or controlling towards them.
In her summing up of the case, the judge told jurors that Giggs was “not on trial for being serially unfaithful – this is not a court of morals”.
She told the jury they must decide whether the relationship between Giggs and Greville “veered off the rails” because she could not accept his “serial womanising” – and then, as the defence suggested, “exacted her revenge and twisted their routine arguments to a portrait of control, violence and of misery.”
Or was it, as the prosecution suggested, a “dark” relationship in which Giggs “exploited” his power over a “vulnerable” Greville and “lost his self-control and physically attacked” his ex-girlfriend, the judge added.
The ex-footballer’s trial was the most high-profile case of coercive and controlling behaviour brought before a jury since the offence was introduced into criminal law in 2015.