Nottinghamshire-based Dr Strange actress and martial artist husband jailed for abusing teenage girls

A Nottinghamshire-based Hollywood actress who groomed and sexually abused a 13-year-old girl along with her husband has been jailed for eight years.

By Andy Done-Johnson
Monday, 16th May 2022, 3:08 pm

Zara 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 court heard that the abuse began after Phythian gave the victim booze and asked if she wanted to ‘play dare’ with her husband.

Zara Marke, who goes by the stage name Phythian,, has been jailed at Nottingham Crown Court. Photo: Tom Maddick/SWNS

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 – both from Mansfield – were found guilty of 14 counts of sexual activity, while Marke was convicted of four further charges of indecent assault against another teen.

Phythian was jailed for eight years while Marke was caged for 14 years at Nottingham Crown Court on May 16.

Victor Marke and actress Zara Marke - who appeared in Dr Strange - have both been jailed. Photo: Tom Maddick/SWNS

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.

Nottingham Crown Court

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.

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"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.

"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.

"I have to deal with you both for a course of offending that lasted three years. I do take account of your good character but this may be of limiting value.

"There will be no chance for either of you to see the other, which will cause some distress."

Addressing Phythian , the judge said: "The sentence in your case will be shorter.

"There was one victim and you were younger at the time and I do not view you as the driving force behind this.

"You were besotted with Victor Marke, I am in no doubt your deviance was shaped by him.

"You had been the focus of his attentions, your relationship started at a time when you were young.

"None of this excuses what you did, you may have done them to fulfil Victor Marke's urges but you still chose to play your part. "

Jurors heard how the teen would regularly stay with the pair at their home when the abuse started.

She told police how she was given rum before being asked by Zara - also a martial arts expert - if she wanted to play ‘dares’.

The actress then began performing a sex act on her husband before asking the victim to do the same.

The girl claimed he then ‘took it in turns’ to have sex with them both.

She told officers the abuse continued until she turned 18 and included Victor asking her to record him and Zara.

The girl said he also filmed the abuse, telling the court it was an attempt to re-create the pornography the couple watched.

Giving evidence, the victim told the jury: "I knew it was wrong, but I did not know how to get out of the situation, or say anything.

“I just did whatever they asked me to do, they made it seem like I was some naughty kid and they were helping me out.

“I just felt like there was no way out.

"They told me not to say anything.”

The court was told Victor used his position of trust to ‘satisfy his sexual urges’ alongside his wife.

She was described as a ‘major personality’ who was ‘enjoying unprecedented personal and professional success’ after her role in Marvel film Doctor Strange.

Ahmed Hossain QC, prosecuting, said: "Both of those defendants commanded admiration and respect within the martial arts world.

"Victor Marke groomed these two separate complainants when they were children and that he 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.”

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.