THE former owner of an animal petting farm is accused of carrying out a catalogue of sexual assaults on young girls over 15-year period.

Mark Hebdon is alleged to have targeted the girls when he was running a petting zoo at Monk Park Farm near Thirsk - he no longer own the business.

Teesside Crown Court heard how some of the allegations came to light in 2012 before another young girl complained about his sexualised behaviour in 2019.

Paul Abrahams, prosecuting, said the third set of allegations resulted in police re-opening the investigation into the complaints made by the two other young girls – aged between 13-15 at the time.

Dealing with the allegations of one of the complainants, he said: “He sent her messages to say he was missing her, which she found weird.

“He sent her another message about him having a dream having sexual intercourse with her.”

Mr Abrahams said another of the alleged victims told how Hebdon had fondled her breasts and buttocks while she waiting to be picked up.

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Jurors heard how the 54-year-old sexually touched one of the complainants between August 2004 and August 2005.

The first alleged victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons, told police how the defendant carried out two sex acts on her.

The second alleged victim made a complaint to police in 2012 saying that Hebdon intentionally touched her in a sexual manner on three occasions.

And the final victim told detectives how the defendant had abused her between November 2018 and November 2019 when she says he forced to carry out a sex act on him on a number of occasions.

Mr Abrahams said: “He kissed her, pushed her to the ground, took out his penis and she performed oral sex on him. Initially, she said no but then did perform oral sex on him.”

The alleged victim said Hebdon bought her a mobile phone and he would message her on it.

Jurors heard how the defendant told police he had dropped his own mobile in a pond at the farm just days before he was arrested and interviewed.

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Tania Griffiths QC, defence counsel, said the third complainant had told people that she was having an ‘affair’ with Hebdon and he was planning on leaving his wife to move in with her when she turned 16.

The barrister told jurors that all of the allegations were ‘made up’ by the three complainants with one of them being ‘besotted’ with her client.

Hebdon, of John Street, Great Ayton, near Stokesley, denies nine charges, including sexual activity with a child and sexual touching of a child.

The trial, which is expected to last two weeks, continues.

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