"These are the worst conditions I have seen in my 17 years as a police officer.”

Those are the words of a police officer who was involved in the search of a vulnerable woman's house in Basingstoke which was taken over by a county lines drug gang.

The house was completely unkept, with rubbish, clothes and food strewn across the floor, and mouldy food all over the kitchen.

When the officer opened one of the cupboards, flies poured out, and the "rancid" smell caused his eyes to water.

A young girl was found in the property, sat on the bed with the mess around her.

The details were revealed in a court hearing last month, as the kingpin of a Basingstoke county lines network was jailed for more than a decade.

Tyrone Potter, who went by the street name Nemo, was the head of a drugs network that sold more than 10 kilograms of Class A drugs, worth in excess of £1 million, in the town over a three year period.

His network formed a cartel with the Monster and Bestie lines to ensure there was always Class A drugs available in the town and reduce street-level violence.

Potter, 25, was arrested in March 2018 at an address in Basingstoke on suspicion of being involved in the supply of crack cocaine and heroin.

He was found in a house "where he wasn’t living, clearly belonging to someone in Basingstoke with an addiction," prosecutor Mark Ruffell told Portsmouth Crown Court last month.

Inside the cuckoo's nest

The house, the address of which was not read out in court, had been cuckooed. This is where drug gangs exploit vulnerable people and drug addicts, taking over their homes to use as a base of operation.

In exchange for being able to use the 'safe house', the cuckooed resident will often receive drugs to satisfy their addiction, or money.

"[Nemo] had been regularly staying at these homes in Basingstoke, and small amounts of money had regularly been deposited [in the resident's bank account] by a Class A drugs addict," Mr Ruffell continued.

"She was being used by Potter as the person who would keep drugs and whose home was being used as a base for dealing and money was being passed back as quickly as it was being made so he would avoid detection.

"The evidence revealed that Potter was operating with two other people from out of area. On that day, police did not work out the links between them all. It wasn’t obvious at that stage, the overlap."

Potter jumped out of a window with £175 of cash on him before being arrested. Additionally, a 17-year-old man from Slough was arrested with Class A drugs hidden in his bottom.

"What was more disturbing was what the police officer attending saw about the state of the address. These are the people Potter was using to enable drugs to be sold."

Mr Ruffell read the police officer's statement to the court: “I saw lots of discarded toys, clothes and food stuff over the floor.

"I noticed there was a strong stale smell in the address. Immediately to my left I could see a bunk bed, a young female child was sat on the bed, she was using a tablet [device].

"Within the kitchen was mouldy food everyone. The conditions were not suitable for any food preparation.

"There was a rancid smell that caused me to gag and my eyes to water, as I opened a cupboard flies came out. These are the worst conditions I have seen I my 17 years as a police officer.”

Nemo drugs line continued

Despite his arrest, Potter, from Earley in Reading, was released and just days afterwards, had rekindled his drug empire, with a new phone number being used.

He went on dealing for years after this incident - he was eventually arrested in Overton in November 2020.

In August 2019, he and two of his trusted employees, Olamide Soyege and Terence Maccabee, were arrested at another cuckooed property in Winterthur Way, Basingstoke.

£1,400 of Class A drugs were seized in the raid, as well as a large sword, machete, bread knife, axe, cookery knife, various phones, stab proof vest and locking Stanley blade.

They were released, and two days later, Soyege and Maccabee were involved in a failed robbery in Shooters Way that led to the death of Taylor Williams.

A different court was previously told how Potter had likely ordered the robbery of Mr Williams' Ray county lines network.