American financier Jeffrey Epstein found dead in cell ahead of sex trafficking trial

  • Video report by ITV News Correspondent Rohit Kachroo

American financier Jeffrey Epstein has been found dead in his cell while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges.

Mr Epstein was held in a high-security prison and refused bail after a judge ruled he posed a danger to the public and was a possible flight risk.

The 66-year-old was accused of having sex with girls as young as 14 years old in the early 2000s. He pleaded not guilty.

The millionaire's cause of death has not yet officially been confirmed, but the New York Post reported that took his own life.

Mr Epstein had reportedly been under close supervision after he was found nearly unconscious in his cell with injuries to his neck two weeks ago.

It was not confirmed whether those injuries were self-harm.

A former warden who ran three federal prisons said the death represents an "unfortunate and shocking failure, if proven to be a suicide."

New York City medical examiner personnel leave their vehicle and walk to the Manhattan Correctional Center where financier Jeffrey Epstein died. Credit: AP

Cameron Lindsay said: "Unequivocally, he should have been on active suicide watch and therefore under direct and constant supervision,"

"When you have an inmate as high profile as Epstein, it's absolutely imperative the warden set the tone with his or her leadership to ensure these kinds of incidents don't happen."

Epstein's accusers have reacted angrily to the news of his death, saying they have been deprived of their day of justice.

Jennifer Araoz said in a statement: "We have to live with the scars of his actions for the rest of our lives, while he will never face the consequences of the crimes he committed the pain and trauma he caused so many people."

Brad Edwards, a Florida lawyer for nearly two dozen other accusers, said that "this is not the ending anyone was looking for".

"The victims deserved to see Epstein held accountable, and he owed it to everyone he hurt to accept responsibility for all of the pain he caused," Edwards said in a statement.

Jeffrey Epstein, second from right, depicted in a courtroom sketch. Credit: Aggie Kenny/AP

Epstein, 66, admitted prostituting minors in 2008 and spent 18 months in prison.

He was sentenced to 13 months in jail but was allowed to leave the county stockade on most days and spend the day in his private office.

After his release, he was registered as a sex offender.

US federal prosecutors in New York reopened the probe after investigative reports in the Miami Herald sparked outrage over the original plea bargain.

Epstein was indicted on new federal charges in July.

Epstein’s lawyers said he had not had any illicit contact with underage girls since serving his jail sentence in Florida.

They said the charges he faced were improper because the federal government is reneging on the deal not to prosecute him.

He was facing fresh charges of sex trafficking and conspiracy with a possible jail sentence of up to 45 years.