THE former owner of a petting farm told a teenage girl, he is accused of sexually assaulting, to throw away her mobile phone if she was approached by the police.

The teenager told detectives how she was targeted by the businessman on a number of occasions and even promised to leave his wife to live with her.

Mark Hebdon is accused of sexually assaulting three young girls over a 15-year period while he was the owner of Monk Park Farm, near Thirsk.

Teesside Crown Court heard how the defendant, who no longer runs the petting farm, is accused of forcing the teenage girl to perform sex acts on him on at least five occasions.

She told detectives how the defendant had abused her between November 2018 and November 2019.

Read more: Former owner of petting farm accused of making teenager perform sex act on him

Giving evidence in a videoed police interview, the girl said: “He found out the police wanted to speak to him and he told me he had hid when they called.

“He told me to destroy my phone if the police ever came, destroy it; just get rid of it; chuck on the train tracks; chuck it in the river; just get rid of the phone.”

The Northern Echo: Mark Hebdon, pictured in 2009, at Monk Park Farm petting visitor centre, near ThirskMark Hebdon, pictured in 2009, at Monk Park Farm petting visitor centre, near Thirsk

Earlier, jurors heard how the defendant lost his own mobile phone when he accidentally dropped it into a pond at the farm when he was rescuing a duck.

The teenager added: “I did care for him because he was there for me when I had no one else to talk to. I did message him but he also messaged me.”

Outlining the case against the defendant, Paul Abrahams, prosecuting, had told jurors how the 54-year-old is accused of sexually touching one of the complainants between August 2004 and August 2005.

A second complainant, who is now an adult, told police that Hebdon carried out two sex acts on her when he got her on her own at the farm when she was a teenager.

During a videoed police interview in May 2020, the woman said the sexual assault only came to an end when her mother arrived and called out her name, which ‘put him off’ and she managed to get away from him.

She said: “If she hadn’t come, I dread to think what else would have happened.”

The complainant said she went in the bath when she got home as she ‘just wanted to get clean’ after the alleged sexual assault.

The court had heard how she made a complaint to the police a decade ago but the investigation did not result in any charges being made against Hebdon.

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

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.

Keep up to date with all the latest news on our website, or follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

You can also follow our dedicated North Yorkshire Facebook page for all the latest in the area by clicking here.

For all the top news updates from right across the region straight to your inbox, sign up to our newsletter here.

Have you got a story for us? Contact our newsdesk on or contact 01325 505054