An explosive report has shed new light on the mysterious circumstances of billionaire paedophile Jeffrey Epstein's shock suicide last weekend.
The convicted sex offender and American financier took his own life on Saturday morning inside Manhattan's Metropolitan Correctional Center.
Since then, serious questions have been raised regarding why he wasn't checked by a guard every 30 minutes — as per prison protocol.
Other major lingering questions include why he was removed from suicide watch in the first place following an earlier suicide attempt last month, and why he wasn't placed in a cell with a fellow prisoner.
Now, the New York Times has made the shock claim that two guards on duty at the time of the suicide "fell asleep and failed to check on him for about three hours", according to a law enforcement official and a prison official.
The officials also allege the guards later "falsified records to cover up their mistake".
These new revelations come after the two guards were placed on administrative leave as the investigation into Epstein's death continues.
The prison's warden has also been temporarily reassigned in the wake of the scandal.
According to the unnamed officials, the two correctional officers who were working at 9 South, the unit where the 66-year-old was held as he awaited trial for charges of sexually abusing a number of underage girls, "falsely recorded in a log that they had checked on the financier, who was facing sex trafficking charges, every 30 minutes, as was required".
"In fact, the guards had been asleep for some or all of the three hours," according to the Times' sources.
The Times also noted that "false entries in an official log" could constitute a federal crime.
The guards in question have not been named, although it is understood one — who was working on overtime at the time — had been reassigned to overseeing prisoners due to a staff shortage.
The other had also been rostered to work overtime because of that shortage.
Earlier this week, the House Judiciary Committee sent a damning letter to Hugh Hurwitz, the acting director of the Bureau of Prisons, calling for answers into the mystery.
The letter argued Epstein's death had revealed "severe miscarriages" within the jail and also "allowed the deceased to ultimately evade facing justice".
It gave a deadline of August 21 to be handed information on the protocols surrounding the care of prisoners at risk of suicide, as well as details of Epstein's mental health evaluations, how he was being monitored and what, if anything, surveillance cameras managed to capture before his death.
The shocking allegations exposed by the Times come just hours after it was revealed news of Epstein's suicide was leaked on controversial social media platform 4chan a full 40 minutes before the information was made public.
It prompted the New York City Fire Department (FDNY) to investigate whether one of its paramedics shared the details, although the department was ultimately cleared of wrongdoing.
On July 6, Epstein was arrested over the alleged sexual abuse of dozens of underage girls.
On July 23, he was found semiconscious in his cell with neck injuries and placed on suicide watch with daily psychiatric evaluations, but he was removed from suicide watch later that month and was placed in a cell alone.
On August 9, documents were unsealed which linked a number of well-known people with Epstein.
The next day, Epstein was found dead in his cell after it was revealed guards had not checked on him for "several hours" — a clear breach of the usual procedure.
WHERE TO GET HELP:
If you are worried about your or someone else's mental health, the best place to get help is your GP or local mental health provider. However, if you or someone else is in danger or endangering others, call police immediately on 111.
OR IF YOU NEED TO TALK TO SOMEONE ELSE:
• LIFELINE: 0800 543 354 or 09 5222 999 within Auckland (available 24/7)
• SUICIDE CRISIS HELPLINE: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
• YOUTHLINE: 0800 376 633 ,free text 234 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or online chat.
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