AN Essex University academic helped three drug dealers flee after they shot dead a rival, a court heard.

Rachel Kenehan, 35, studying for a PhD in criminology, was in a relationship with one of the men accused of murdering Jahmel Jones on 20 April last year.

Winchester Crown Court heard Kenehan, who has a masters in sociology and an in-depth knowledge of crime, met Pierre Lewis through a prison mentoring scheme.

Mr Jones, 23, was shot in the head at a flat in St Mary Street, in Southampton.

Lewis, 20, Jemmikai Orlebar- Forbes, 20, and Isaac Boateng, 22, all from London, denymurder. They each admit two counts of conspiracy to supply class A drugs.

Kenehan, of Hewlett Road, London, denies two counts of conspiracy to supply class A drugs, one of assisting an offender and three of perverting the course of justice.

The trial was told howKenehan and Lewis met in March 2012 when she mentored him on “a charitable project designed to help young men lead law-abiding lives after custody’’.

The prosecution said Kenehan began helping him in the supply and transport of class A drugs to Southampton after he was released.

Prosecutor Ian Lawrie, QC, said that after the shooting, Kenehan picked up the three defendants from Basingstoke, took them to London and helped destroy forensic evidence.

The court was told that through her academic career at the London School of Economics studying criminology, she had gained “an in-depth knowledge of criminal behaviour and the frailty of human nature’’.

She was studying for a PhD at the University of Essex at the time of her arrest. Mr Lawrie said: “It is ironic she became involved in crime on a significant scale.’’ The jury heard car rentals were booked in Kenehan's name, which motorway number plate recognition images showed were used to drive between London and Southampton.

The prosecution read out text messages between Kenehan and Lewis, which showed she provided “logistical support’’ and had a “positive and proactive involvement in the supply of drugs’’.

Orlebar-Forbes listed his address as Cloudesdale Road while Lewis is from Castlenau, Barnes, and Boateng from Mill Farm Crescent, in Hounslow.

! The trial continues.