The former owner of a petting farm is on trial accused of sexually abusing a teenage girl.

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

The 55-year-old was spotted kissing the teenager in 2019 by at least one witness but denies the abuse claim he faces, Teesside Crown Court heard.

And the alleged victim told detectives how the defendant had abused her over a period of a year when she says he forced her to carry out a sex act on him on a number of occasions.

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In her video recorded evidence, the complainant told officers how they were having an affair despite their age difference and that Hebdon had promised to leave his wife for her.

She said: “He started kissing me and I said no. He kind of pushed me to the floor and he tried to unzip my trousers.

“I was trying to get up and walk away but it went from there really – he forced me to perform a sex act.”

When the detectives asked what her relationship was like with the defendant, the teenager replied: “He told me multiple times that he was going to leave his wife and live with me.”

A witness, who cannot be named for legal reasons, told police that her friend had told her that she was having an affair with the defendant after she caught them kissing near a barn on the farm in North Yorkshire.

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She added: “She told me there was times that he forced her to have oral sex with him. She said shew was scared of him and he made her do things that she didn’t want to.”

Tania Griffiths KC, representing Hebdon, addressed the jury before the evidence was heard and urged them to judge her client on the facts of the case and told them that the complainant had been excluded from school due to her behaviour before the alleged attacks took place.

Hebdon, of John Street, Great Ayton, near Stokesley, denies three charges – sexual activity with a child and two counts of sexual activity with a child involving penetration.

The trial continues.