Ghislaine Maxwell wanted to take the stand to give evidence at her New York trial but was ‘talked out of it’ by her legal team who feared she was too mentally and physically frail.
The news comes as she spends her 549th day behind bars today at New York’s notorious Metropolitan Detention Centre.
The Mail on Sunday can reveal that the disgraced socialite is terrified the judge ‘will throw the book at her’ during her forthcoming sentencing hearing and she will die in jail.
Maxwell’s lawyers fear it will be at least five months before she is sentenced – and she may remain at the Metropolitan Detention Centre a year if an appeal is granted.
A friend revealed that Maxwell, who turned 60 on Christmas Day, had been keen to defend herself in court, but her detention had shaken her confidence and broken her spirit.
Ghislaine Maxwell’s lawyers fear it will be at least five months before she is sentenced – and she may remain at the Metropolitan Detention Centre a year if an appeal is granted
The source added: ‘Ghislaine wanted to take the stand in her own defence. If she was the ‘old’ Ghislaine, she would have done so.
‘She wanted to take the stand, but she is too frail, too broken.
‘There were many spirited discussions between Ghislaine and her legal team.
‘In the end it was decided she was not strong enough to withstand a withering cross-examination.’
Maxwell, who was found guilty of five out of six charges of recruiting and trafficking young girls for paedophile billionaire Jeffrey Epstein, is said to have been crushed by her time in jail awaiting trial.
She is on round-the-clock suicide watch and is only allowed paper clothes and underwear. ‘She can’t have a bra in case she tries to kill herself,’ said one source.
Providing a vivid insight into Maxwell’s state of mind during her four-week trial in which four victims told how she groomed and abused them, the friend said: ‘She’s under no illusions. She never believed she could get a fair trial, which is why she showed so little emotion when the guilty verdicts were read.
‘She believes the judge will throw the book at her and sentence her to the maximum 65 years. She is expecting a long sentence, a sentence that likely means she will die in jail. She does not believe she will see the outside world again.’
Broken: Maxwell speaks to her defence attorney Christian Everdell prior to the testimony of ‘Kate’ during her trial
Maxwell felt ‘tortured’ during the trial and is now ‘in a living hell’. ‘She was moved from the prison to the holding cell at court at 4am every morning,’ said the friend. ‘She had little to no food.
‘On the day she was found guilty she had two cheese slices, a banana and a packet of crisps for the entire day. It was her birthday last Saturday, Christmas Day, and she was allowed no visitors because Covid is ripping through the jail. She was given cold, soggy cheese pizza. Since her conviction things have become even worse. The jail has been closed down to all visitors because of Covid and she is being held in isolation, on suicide watch.
‘Her mattress has been removed. She only has paper underwear and clothes. She is being watched 24/7. They have broken her physically and mentally.’
A legal source said she was being given ‘maggoty apples, bread with mould and rancid food’ to eat, adding: ‘As of Wednesday night she is on full suicide watch. They are checking on her constantly.’ Parole officials will begin a pre-sentencing report tomorrow for Judge Alison Nathan to use to decide the length of her jail term.
The legal source added: ‘They will look into her background, her schooling, her parents. This is quite normal. Usually it takes three months but with Covid and the fact Ghislaine spent much of her life outside the US, we expect the process to take five months.’
Maxwell’s family remain ‘totally convinced’ of her innocence and believe she has become the scapegoat for Epstein’s crimes. They have co-operated with a CBS/ITV documentary that will be screened in the UK in February.
Her brother Ian said this weekend that she had become ‘the most demonised woman in the world’, adding: ‘She is doing Epstein’s time and that is just wrong.’
Maxwell’s siblings will be back in court when Maxwell is sentenced – but her victims also want their day in court. Dozens of women abused by Epstein have vowed to ‘stare down’ Maxwell in person when she learns her fate.
Bradley Edwards, who represents numerous victims of Maxwell and Epstein, who was found dead in jail in August 2019, said there ‘will be a line out of the door’. He added: ‘I have more than 20 clients who want to give evidence. For every person Ghislaine presents regarding her ‘good character’ there will be two ready to describe for the judge her true, far-from-good character.’
Maxwell with her parents Robert and Elisabeth in 1990 at a yacht party
Lisa Bloom, who represents at least half a dozen victims, said her clients also wanted to watch Maxwell’s final fall in person. ‘There could be as many as 30 or more girls. For many this is their chance to look their nemesis in the eye.’