Jeffrey Epstein found unconscious in jail cell after 'possible suicide attempt'

Harriet Alexander
Epstein was said to have been found by guards sprawled on the floor of cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center - New York State Sex Offender Registry

Jeffrey Epstein has been found unconscious in his Manhattan jail cell after a possible suicide attempt, according to US media reports. 

The Brooklyn-born financier, 66, was taken to hospital in New York, after he was found by guards sprawled on the floor of cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center with injuries to his neck, media reported. 

His condition remains unclear, and it was not known how he suffered his injuries.

Authorities at the prison are also investigating whether he may have been a victim of assault. 

A lawyer for inmate Nicholas Tartaglione denied reports on Thursday that his client was a suspect in a possible assault on Epstein. Tartaglione is a former suburban New York police officer awaiting trial on charges he was involved in the kidnapping and killing of four men in 2016.

Epstein last week was denied bail on charges of sex trafficking involving dozens of underage girls. On Tuesday his lawyers appealed against the decision, arguing once more that he should be allowed to await his trial at his $77 million (£62m) New York mansion.

Prosecutors had argued successfully that Epstein posed a significant flight risk, given his $500 million fortune, private jet, and homes around the world. They also brought forward some of the 80 girls who have accused him, and convinced Judge Richard Berman that Epstein posed a danger to the community.

Epstein has pleaded not guilty to the charges of sex trafficking, and the appeal for bail was expected.

Jeffrey Epstein, during his July 15 bail hearing

The mysterious financier, who counted Prince Andrew, Donald Trump and Bill Clinton among his former friends, had his world turned upside down with his July 6 arrest by New York police.

He had been investigated for the abuse of young girls in Florida from 2005, but in 2007 he cut a plea deal with Palm Beach prosecutors which has been deemed remarkably lenient. Epstein was sentenced to 18 months behind bars – of which he served 13 – and was allowed to his Palm Beach office six days a week on work-release.

One of the lawyers for the accusers, Brad Edwards, has alleged that Epstein abused a woman while on work release.

In the decade since completing his sentence, he has lived as a free man, roaming between his properties in New York and Palm Beach, an apartment in Paris, a ranch in New Mexico and a private island in the Caribbean.

In November the Miami Herald published an expose of the 2007 plea deal, which renewed interest in the case in the #MeToo era. The Florida district attorney who agreed the deal, Alex Acosta, was serving as Donald Trump’s labour secretary and was forced to resign on July 12.

Followers of the case are also awaiting the release of 2,000 pages of documents relating to Epstein’s activities, from a defamation suit filed in 2015 and settled in 2017.

In early July, prior to Epstein’s arrest, the US Appeals Court for Second Circuit decided to make public the files.