Basingstoke has an appalling drugs problem, a court heard on the first day of a fresh county lines trial.

Two residents Adam Michael Harman and Stacey Louise Knock, formerly of Normanton Road in Oakridge, appeared at Portsmouth Crown Court on Monday.

The pair have been charged with two counts of conspiracy to supply class A drugs, heroin and cocaine.

They are accused of being involved in the ‘Monster’ drugs line, which began in 2017, by renting vehicles for other members of the “Monster gang” to use.

The court heard that the defendants were said to have been “active members of Monster” between January 4, 2019, and May 31, 2019, after which they moved out of Basingstoke.

Prosecutor Charles Gabb said that both defendants “took crack cocaine,” with Harman said to have told police that he had “a habit of £100-150 per day,” and subsequently lead them to become involved with Monster.

He said that Monster began in 2017, and was operated from Luton.

“Why on Earth does somebody in Luton decide that Basingstoke is a good place to do business?” Mr Gabb asked the court, adding that further drugs lines were run by the same gang in Reading and Winchester.

“For some reason or other, Basingstoke has an appalling drugs problem,” he told the court, with “three drugs lines working simultaneously in Basingstoke by the name of Monster… Bestie and Nemo.”

Gabb said that in 2019, Harman and Knock were introduced to the operation by a neighbour, who was “involved in Monster up to her eyeballs.”

As part of Monster, the defendants are said to have rented vehicles for the gang on five separate occasions by using different car hire companies each time, with the vehicles being used on “an almost daily basis.”

Gabb said that Harman told police that he “was in debt” to the gang’s leader, and “got his debt reduced and free cocaine” for his actions.

The prosecutor said that Harman and Knock “played a very important part” of Monster. “Without them,” he said, “transport would have been very difficult.”

Both Harman and Knock have pleaded not guilty to all charges. The trial continues.