Ghislaine Maxwell has never conceded an inch in her insistence that she’s no grubby criminal and, on the first day of her trial yesterday, she certainly wasn’t about to start.

When she came to the court to hear opening statements about a case in which she could spend her entire life behind bars, she looked like the confused and hunched victim of the brutality of the jailhouse.

She nearly walked into Thurgood Marshall United States Courthouse. Following her, two female guards replaced the prison uniform in drabblue from prior court appearances with a more expensive beige cashmere jumper, black pants, heels and white Covid mask.

After entering the underground Courtroom 318 in Manhattan that is famed for hosting the terrorist trial, the British socialite gave four of her high-powered lawyers affectionate hugs.

Where the alleged abuse took place. For Maxwell, followed by two female guards, the drab blue prison uniform of previous court appearances was replaced by an expensive-looking beige cashmere jumper, black trousers, heels and a white Covid mask today

The location where the abuse occurred. Maxwell was accompanied by two female guards. Their drab, blue prison uniforms were replaced today with a more expensive, beige cashmere jumper, black pants, heels, and a Covid white mask.

Maxwell, 59, who is accused of procuring underage girls for pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, is set to stand trial on sex trafficking charges on November 29. She has pleaded not guilty to all charges

Maxwell (59), who is charged with procuring girls underage for Jeffrey Epstein is due to face trial in November on charges of sex traficking. She has pleaded no guilty to all charges 

Ghislaine Maxwell's sex trafficking trial has begun today in New York where the 59-year-old socialite faces 80 years in prison if convicted. She's pictured embracing her defense lawyers

Ghislaine Maxwell, a 59-year old socialite and victim of sex trafficking has been charged in New York. She faces up to 80 years imprisonment if she is convicted. Pictured with her lawyers, she is embracing them 

Maxwell, who was tactile with her attorneys at the very least, would often lean on them and rest her hand on their smaller backs as she went about her morning with the final pre-trial delays.

Then, she waved at Isabel, her sister in beret, who is from the US, and was standing just yards away on the front row.

Isabel was sat next to Leah Saffian who is a long-time Maxwell family lawyer, and a friend of Ghislaine. Maxwell often glanced in their direction during the day but they didn’t always appear to see her.

Maxwell's legal team has repeatedly made claims about her alleged mistreatment behind bars. She is shown in prison earlier this year with 'a black eye'

Maxwell has been repeatedly criticized by Maxwell’s legal team for her mistreatment behind bars. Her earlier inmate photo shows her with a ‘black eye’. 

Maxwell's lawyer Bobbi Sternheim took the floor to deliver the defense's presentation, saying she is 'proud' to represent Maxwell

Bobbi Sternheim, Maxwell’s attorney, took to the podium to present the defense. She said she was ‘proud to’ represent Maxwell

Maxwell has pleaded not guilty to sex trafficking and other charges and has been awaiting trial for over a year in 'hell-hole' Brooklyn prison

Maxwell has pleaded innocent to charges including sex traficking. He has spent over a decade in Brooklyn jail awaiting his trial. 

Maxwell’s nervous energy, or perhaps a determination not to let her anxiety show through, Maxwell often exuded energy. She feverishly made notes for lawyers and discussed strategies. Once, she even snapped two fingers at once as she seemed to be excited about one aspect of the talks.

The defendant who’d accused the authorities of purposefully making her jail life so hellish that it would ruin her chances of putting together a decent defence appeared to be making up for lost time.

Christian Everdell (an ex-prosecutor for the team who convicted Joaquin El Chapo Guzman of being a Mexican drug cartel leader) sat with her next to her and would often get close enough to his ears to hear what he was saying.

Maxwell did not seem too bothered about her mask falling below her nose. However, Maxwell may consider the possibility of contracting coronavirus to be minor.

Sarah Ransome, one of several women who have accused Epstein and Ghislaine of sexual abuse, was seen arriving to the courthouse

Sarah Ransome, one of several women who have accused Epstein and Ghislaine of sexual abuse, was seen arriving to the courthouse

Sarah Ransome, who is one of many women who accused Epstein, Ghislaine, of sexual abuse was seen at the courthouse

Maxwell seemed to be enjoying the freedom that her trial, which is expected to last for several months, would allow after spending 17 months in detention. Maxwell’s thick, black hair was shiny, and she had just trimmed it to the shoulders. This is a far cry from the gray streaks that her bail application made.

According to prosecutors, Maxwell has done her level best to put off this day, avoiding justice for years – her family insist she was only fleeing the media – with tactics that even extended to covering her mobile phone with tin foil to stop it being electronically tracked. As her defence laid out yesterday, she in turn claims she is a scapegoat for the sins of her former lover and close friend Jeffrey Epstein – an innocent woman caught up in the embarrassment of a government that failed to prevent the paedophile financier from committing suicide behind bars before he could be put on trial.

If the reputedly haughty daughter of the even haughtier Robert Maxwell has indeed – as the evidence strongly suggests – been trying to put off the day she finally had to face her accusers, she can thank the coronavirus that her humiliation wasn’t sharper.

Although Courtroom 318 was chosen primarily because it is one of the bigger courtrooms – the Maxwell trial has attracted vast attention – social distancing measures have drastically reduced the number of people it can fit.

Ghislaine Maxwell was Jeffrey Epstein's 'partner in crime' who 'targeted young girls for sexual abuse', the prosecution claimed in a blistering opening statement

Ghislaine Minwell was Jeffrey Epstein’s ‘partner in crime’ who ‘targeted young women for sexual abuse,’ the prosecution claimed.

This courtroom sketch shows Ghislaine Maxwell at the defense table in Monday’s final stages of juror selection. 

There was only room for a handful of the journalists who had been queuing – 50-strong – from before dawn for a place in court. Best of all, perhaps, for Maxwell was that she was spared the ray gun stares of at least two of Epstein’s accusers who – not involved in the trial – also weren’t able to get into the courtroom and had to make do watching it on monitors in an overflow room.

The Covid measures include the building of plexiglass boxes containing hospital-grade HEPA air filters around the witness and lawyers’ stands so they can ask and answer questions without having to wear a mask. This case was dubbed “the trial of the century” but it was pulled back yesterday by the discovery that one juror had lost the intent to start it.

Maxwell’s fate will be decided in a wood-panelled courtroom with 30ft ceilings that heard the trials of defendants linked to the Al Qaeda attacks on US embassies in Africa and a plot to blow up the United Nations headquarters. Famously, the courtroom was also where Joseph Bonanno (a mobster notorious) surrendered himself to authorities. He simply showed up at courtroom to declare his identity, as he was more comfortable being arrested by the court police than by the FBI.

Because it’s close to the covered crosswalk, the courtroom is convenient for cases of high security. It connects to the Metropolitan Corrections Center across the street where the prisoners are kept. If there is trouble guards will be able to rush in and get the accused to their cell quickly.

Isabel Maxwell, the sister of Ghislaine Maxwell, arrives at the Thurgood Marshall United States Courthouse on Monday

Isabel Maxwell arrives Monday at Thurgood Marshall US Courthouse as the sister to Ghislaine Maxwell 

It doesn’t seem likely that such an interruption will occur at Maxwell’s trial. While she did once throw her hands on the desk of lawyers when giving a deposition, it doesn’t seem likely that such an outburst will occur now.

Maxwell remained steadfast as Lara Pomerantz, the lawyer for Maxwell, described the case.

Maxwell scowled at her as she sat beside Miss Pomerantz. She only reacted to the allegations by reaching for a pencil and writing another note on an Index Card, which she later passed to her legal staff.

Her lawyer Bobbi Sternheim described Epstein as the ‘proverbial elephant in the room’.

But Maxwell will not be allowed to forget that, for many of his accusers, this middle-aged and supposedly respectable woman – who allegedly helped recruit and groom them – is even more detestable than him.