A GRADUATE teaching assistant from London came to Carlisle to deal drugs because life in the capital was a financial struggle, a court heard.

Cynesha Brown, 25, was caught red-handed when police raided the home of known Carlisle drugs criminal Leon Kenyon as part of their investigation into a huge drugs conspiracy, which this week saw him and 14 of his co-conspirators jailed for a total of nearly 90 years.

Brown's paymasters sent her to the city to peddle crack cocaine and heroin to local addicts.

Both she and Kenyon admitted conspiring to supply of class A drugs.

Tim Evans, prosecuting at Carlisle Crown Court, said police raided 48-year-old Kenyon's Osborne Avenue home in Carlisle on the morning of January 12.

They were investigating a Merseyside based drugs plot as part of Operation Nile.

"Mr Kenyon was there, along with Miss Brown," said the barrister.

"She initially gave her name as Erica, but officers seized her phone and it became plain her first name was Cynesha."

As police searched the property, they found a holdall belonging to Brown.

Inside it was £415 in cash.

Women officers then searched her, and hidden inside her body were plastic bags containing drugs worth almost £800 - 19 wraps of crack cocaine, and 27 heroin deals.

Kenyon claimed he knew nothing about the cash in the holdall.

Brown denied any involvement in drugs supply.

Later, she was more forthcoming, said Mr Evans.

"She said she was poorly paid employment as a teaching assistant, and struggling to make ends meet," said the barrister.

At a party, she had overheard somebody talk of how much money could be made from dealing drugs so she tracked down a dealer called Sammy and offered to get involved.

He provided her with instructions and a train ticket to Carlisle, leaving London on Tuesday, January 8.

As she arrived, a taxi had been ordered to take her to Kenyon's house in Osborne Avenue.

She stayed for four days.

Brown said she took drugs orders, which Kenyon would deliver, passing over the cash when he returned.

The money in the holdall was the proceeds of those sales.

Mark Shepherd, for Brown, said she had planned to study for a masters' degree but then made what was a "ridiculous" decision to get involved in the drugs trade.

"She's devastated by what she has done," said the lawyer.

"Through speaking to people in HMP Low Newton, she understands the true personal cost of addiction and the corrosive effect that has on those addicts, and those who are closest to them - their family members."

It was her colossal student debt, and the high cost of living in London, that caused her to succumb to temptation.

David Wales, for Kenyon, said his client was a long-term drug user.

Brown, of Cadett Drive, Southwark, London, was jailed for 28 months and Kenyon was given 18 months - consecutive to the 20 months he was given in an earlier hearing for his role in the conspiracy smashed by Cumbria Police's Operation Nile.