Doctor Strange actress Zara Phythian has been jailed for eight years at Nottingham Crown Court for the historical sexual abuse of a girl who was aged between 13 and 15.

Phythian's husband Victor Marke was sentenced to 14 years' imprisonment for jointly abusing the same victim, as well as the indecent assault of a second girl.

 

Passing sentence, Judge Mark Watson told the couple that he believed the start of the sexual abuse of the joint victim had been pre-planned. 

 

Phythian, who starred with Benedict Cumberbatch in the Marvel movie Doctor Strange, plied the teen with rum before making her perform a sex act on her partner.

The 36-year-old and Victor Marke would abuse the girl 'once or twice a month' at their home over a three year period from 2005. 

 

The judge told Marke: 'I regard you as the driving force behind the abuse. You were clearly aware of the first incident but pretended to be asleep.

'This could only have been a ruse agreed in advance.'

During the sentencing, the judge also said that Phythian's 'deviance' was shaped by the influence that Marke had on her from an early age. 

A court heard the abuse began after Phythian gave the victim booze and asked if she wanted to 'play dare' with her husband.

Martial arts and Taekwondo 'master' Marke, 59, then had sex with the schoolgirl about 20 times on different occasions.

 

The victim, who cannot be named, described the couple as 'Jekyll and Hyde' characters and said Marke threatened her while ordering her to film the abuse.

The couple, of Mansfield, Notts., were found guilty of 14 counts of sexual activity, while Marke was convicted of four further charges of indecent assault against another teen.

After her sentence was passed, members of Phythian's family shouted 'we love you Zara' to which she responded: 'I'm innocent, I love you all.'

 

Earlier, Marke could be heard sobbing uncontrollably as he arrived into the court room to hear his fate.

Sentencing, Judge Mark Watson said: 'It has been said that both of you present as impressive individuals, each with a long list of accomplishment.

'You, Victor Marke, were somebody your students looked up to. You Zara Marke were also someone that was looked up to by those you taught.

'Most people have held you in high esteem. That is why you were able to groom the victims in this case and get away with it for so long.

'You groomed her and there was a significant disparity in your ages.

'Both of you exposed her to sex acts. You showed her how you liked it and she described it as a 'very advanced, dirty, naughty side'.

'She said 'God I've done everything and I'm not even 16 yet.'

'At the time she was already vulnerable, in the sense she was young and had not gone through puberty.

'Much of the sexual behaviour was video recorded.

'Victor Marke, I describe you as the driving force behind the abuse. The sex act that did take place would end when you had fulfilled your needs.

'You were also the older part and occupied a higher status in the world of martial arts.


Phythian (pictured with Benedict Cumberbatch) and her Taekwondo 'master' husband Victor Marke, 59, were jointly charged with 14 historical counts of sexual activity with the girl

Jurors heard the alleged abuse began after the couple plied the girl with Captain Morgan dark rum, before Zara (pictured) 'dared' her to perform a sex act on Victor
'Both you and Zara Marke were immersed in that regime, everyone was all too aware of the pecking order - you were at the top.

'Each of you shares responsibility. Your offending involved multiple types of sex acts and more importantly you offended together.

used his position of trust and authority to make them feel special so that he could satisfy his sexual urges.'

The court was told Zara, who uses the stage name Phythian, branded the allegations 'bulls**t' when she was quizzed by police.

She said: 'They [the claims] are untrue. She has lied to me all the time I have known her.

'I am not a paedophile, or a rapist. Nor is Vic.'

Zara and her husband (pictured) were arrested in March 2017 on suspicion of sex crimes involving the girl. The trial heard graphic details of their sex life, which included filming themselves having sex, taking part in swinging sessions and using a wide variety of sex aids
She revealed in the police interviews her husband claimed he had 'consensual' sex with the girl only after she turned 18.

The actress said she felt 'confused' and 'would liked to have known about it'.

She also admitted she owned a sex toy 'collection' during questioning after the victim claimed the aids were used on her.

 

 

‘I had no suspicions at all,’ her father told the Daily Mail.

‘I could not believe what I was hearing and to say I was not a happy man would be an understatement. I felt betrayed by him and very angry.’

Such a reaction was hardly surprising given that Marke was 22 years older than Zara, his wife had recently had their baby — and he was supposed to be Zara’s teacher, not her lover.

For two years, Mr Phythian and his daughter did not talk until relations thawed to the extent that Marke felt able to ask Mr Phythian, a joiner, for his daughter’s hand in marriage.

The pair seemed happy enough and, as the years passed, appeared to have created a successful life together.

On Wednesday, Zara, 37, and her husband were found guilty of grooming and sexually assaulting a 13-year-old schoolgirl. Throughout the trial at Nottingham Crown Court, Zara¿s family stood by her, watching from the public gallery as guilty verdicts were returned and the couple were remanded in custody ahead of sentencing today
Not only did Zara rise to become a Taekwondo world champion, but she managed to turn her passion for martial arts into a successful acting career.

Talent-spotted at a tournament in the United States, she began to work as a stuntwoman as well as taking part in Guinness World Record attempts on Sky TV.

But her big break came when she successfully auditioned for the role of ‘Brunette Zealot’ in the 2016 Marvel superhero film Doctor Strange, alongside Benedict Cumberbatch and Tilda Swinton.

At the time, she was described as enjoying ‘unprecedented personal and professional success’ — even telling of her ambition to star in a Bond film.

Throughout the trial at Nottingham Crown Court, Zara’s family stood by her, watching from the public gallery as guilty verdicts were returned and the couple were remanded in custody ahead of sentencing today.

Speaking exclusively to the Daily Mail last week, it is clear Zara’s father is struggling to come to terms with events.

He says the family expected her to be cleared, echoing claims made by others in the martial arts community who say Zara had herself been groomed by Marke.

‘Victor groomed Zara as well as his other victims,’ a former training partner of the couple said last week. ‘He used his power and influence as a master of martial arts to dominate and control young girls.’