A MAN was ambushed and gunned down by a "confident" drugs gang, a court heard today.

Jahmel Jones was murdered by rival drug dealers who had earned in excess of £20,000 through deals in just over a month, Winchester Crown Court heard.

Prosecutor Ian Lawrie QC told jurors that Pierre Lewis, Jemmikai Orlebar-Forbes and Isaac Boateng all had a trust between them and grew in confidence as their success grew to fatally shoot Mr Jones at a flat in 69 St Mary Street, Southampton, on April 20 last year.

Mr Lawrie said they received "undoubted" assistance in their drug dealing enterprise by 35-year-old Rachel Kenehan, who was in a relationship with Lewis.

Mr Lawrie told the court how Mr Jones was "ambushed" in the flat and Orlebar-Forbes was the gang member who shot him in the company of Lewis and Boateng.

He said: "They knew of the pistol and the plan to ambush Mr Jones. They were working together."

He said the trio were forced to exit the building and flee Southampton quickly due to witness Jason Hoitt being present at the shooting.

Mr Lawrie argued Kenehan, a former university lecturer and Lewis's mentor in prison, showed a gap between "intelligence and common sense" when interviewed by police officers following her arrest, and supported her co-defendants by researching drug production and crack cocaine in Southampton in the weeks building up to the shooting.

Mr Lawrie said text exchanges between Kenehan and Lewis "smacked of collusion" over the drugs enterprise.

The court heard how Kenehan hired a number of cars during January and allowed Lewis to drive them - despite not having a driving licence.

But Kenehan's claims she didn't realise Lewis needed L-plates was dismissed as "cock-a-hoop" by Mr Lawrie and their decision to use hire cars was the "perfect means" to ferry drugs and cash.

Mr Lawrie said: "It's clear proof that Ms Kenehan is actively involved in the supply of drugs with her partner and with the active assistance of Mr Boateng and subsequently later Mr Forbes.

"We know by April this drugs business was a success because we are able to move it all reasonably quickly - you got the idea of the sorts of money to be made from drug dealing.

"These are three men that know each other reasonably well. More importantly they are three men who trusted each other.

"They relied on each other on different functions of supplying class A drugs.

"One can see it is a well-oiled smooth running machine between the three of them an the undoubted assistance of Ms Kenehan."