AN Essex University PhD student turned “gangster’s moll” has been jailed for helping her boyfriend and two others escape after they “executed” a drugs gang rival.

Rachel Kenehan, 35, who was studying criminology at Colchester campus, has started a three-and-a-half-year prison sentence after suffering a “spectacular fall from grace”.

Kenehan became “infatuated” after meeting Pierre Lewis while carrying out charitable mentoring work for young offenders.

She picked up Lewis and two associates after they had shot dead Jahmel Jones in Southampton, on April 20 last year.

Kenehan let them stay at her home in Bow, East London, rented hire care cars for them and took speeding penalties racked up by Lewis.

She also tried to destroy the trainers worn by Lewis at the shooting by pouring white spirit on them.

Lewis, 20, Jemmikai Orlebar-Forbes, 20 and Isaac Boateng, 22, all of London, were convicted of murdering Mr Jones after a trial last week.

Kenehan was convicted of assisting offenders, conspiracy to supply class A drugs and perverting the course of justice.

Sentencing Kenehan, Mr Justice Keith told her: "If one was looking for stereotypes, you would be the gangster's moll.

"But that would be too facile a description of you. You are a woman of many talents, hugely gifted with intellect, ambition and drive, with qualities of generosity and kindness which have so impressed the many people who spoke so highly of you in the course of the trial.

"The fact is that had you not met Lewis, you would not be where you are now.”

Lewis was jailed for a minimum of 29 years, Orlebar-Forbes for 31 years and Boateng for 30 years.

Kenehan taught sociology and psychology at the London Metropolitan University and was studying for a PhD at Essex University at the time of her arrest.

An Essex University spokesman said she had been kicked off her course.

He added: “She will be required to apply for readmission after her release, and her criminal record will be considered as part of that process.”