Private hire driver among 8 people sentenced to a total of 36 years for involvement in a drugs gang

Image credit: Hampshire Constabulary

Eight people have been sentenced to a total of 36 years in custody after admitting their roles in a 'slick, professional and extensive' Class A drugs network operating in Basingstoke. One of the gang was also sentenced after being caught with a cocked and loaded sawn off shotgun in public after being stopped by police officers.

The eight defendants, who all played a part in the county lines gang - known as the G-Man line - were sentenced over three days at Winchester Crown Court on 26 August, 27 August and 28 August. They had all pleaded guilty to offences of conspiring to supply Class A drugs heroin and cocaine in the Basingstoke area. The conspiracy was said to have been in operation from April 2018 to May 2019. On 9 December, 2018, two members of the gang were stopped by police near Tewkesbury Close in Basingstoke.

Both ran off after throwing down a rucksack but Oliveira was caught by officers after a chase. The rucksack was found to contain a loaded and cocked sawn off double barrelled 12 bore shotgun. Oliveira’s mobile phone was later examined and showed footage of him loading the gun inside Zani’s address in Tewkesbury Close. The court heard the gang was assisted by licensed private hire driver Matt Temple. Judge Barnett described Temple as the 'Transport Division'. Temple himself was said to have a cocaine habit and would earn cash and drugs by chauffeuring the gang runners and dealers around at all hours of the day and night. Prosecutor Mark Ruffell said the gang’s motivation was money - 'purely and simply'. There was little or no thought given to the consequences of this ‘terrible trade’ and the ‘resulting havoc it wreaks upon the lives in the grip of addiction’. Following the sentencing, His Honour Judge Barnett praised the police officers involved in investigating the complex case. He said: "I would like to pay an enormous tribute to the officers who brought this case to justice. This was outstanding work. The sheer scale of this enquiry was just one of the complicating factors." Judge Barnett added: "People who take these drugs ruin their lives. They are life destroying substances and those who are concerned in supplying them bear the condemnation of society." Basingstoke’s District Commander Chief Inspector Karen McManus said: “This sentencing demonstrates that we will do everything in our power to stop Basingstoke being targeted by violent drugs networks because we know the harm and misery they cause to our communities. “These sentences demonstrate that those who seek to make money out of plying such an evil trade need to look over their shoulders at all times because we are coming after you. “Investigations such as this require painstaking work and thanks to the determination, professionalism and persistence of our officers, staff and legal team, this dangerous gang has now been completely dismantled. “With the community supporting us and being our eyes and ears on the ground, we were able to make these arrests and get some very dangerous people and weapons off our streets. “We can’t tackle this problem alone but with the help of our communities, we can take action against those intent on breaking the law. “If you have any concerns about drug-related activity in your area, you can report it online via or by please calling us on 101.” Matthew Temple, 47, of Mendip Close, Buckskin, Basingstoke, admitted two counts of conspiracy to supply Class A drugs. He was sentenced to four years and eight months imprisonment for both counts to run concurrently. Temple further admitted two counts of driving while disqualified and was sentenced to four months imprisonment on both counts, to run concurrently with the original sentence. He was also banned from driving for seven years.

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