Dr Strange actress Zara Phythian jailed for eight years for sexually abusing teenager

·2-min read
Zara Marke, left, and husband Victor Marke arrive at Nottingham Crown Court in April - Tom Maddick/SWNS
Zara Marke, left, and husband Victor Marke arrive at Nottingham Crown Court in April - Tom Maddick/SWNS

An actress who starred in a Marvel blockbuster has been jailed for eight years after she was found guilty of grooming and sexually abusing a teenage girl.

Zara Phythian, 37, who featured in the 2016 Marvel movie, Doctor Strange, was convicted of the historic abuse alongside her martial artist husband, Victor Marke, who was jailed for 14-years.

He was also found guilty of the indecent assault of a second victim.

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

Phythian, who met her future husband when she was aged 14 and he was 37, began her film career after being spotted at a martial arts competition in the United States.

In 2016 she landed the role of Brunette Zealot in Doctor Strange and she was described as enjoying "unprecedented personal and professional success".

Zara Phythian, who featured in the 2016 Marvel movie, Doctor Strange, was convicted of sexual activity with a teenager
Zara Phythian, who featured in the 2016 Marvel movie, Doctor Strange, was convicted of sexual activity with a teenager

But in 2017 she was arrested alongside Marke, when a woman came forward alleging the couple had repeatedly sexually abused her from the age of 13.

Sentencing the couple the judge said he believed Marke was the "driving force" behind the abuse and said Phythian's "deviance" had been shaped by her husband.

"Whilst you denied in cross-examination that you were besotted with Victor Marke, on the evidence I have heard I am in no doubt that your deviance was shaped by the influence that he had upon you from an early age.

"I cannot ignore that it started at a time when you were still young."

But the judge added: "Having said that, none of this excuses what you did - these were choices you made.

"You were by then successful in your own right. You chose to play your part."

As she was led away to the cells, Phythian waved at the public gallery, where a woman shouted: "I love you, Zara."

Zara Phythian is pictured here with Benedict Cumberbatch
Zara Phythian is pictured here with Benedict Cumberbatch

The 37-year-old, from Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, and Marke, 59, were told they will have to serve at least half their sentences before being considered for parole.

The victim described how the couple plyed her with rum, before Pythian invited her to play a game of "dare", asking her to copy a sex act she performed on Marke.

Giving evidence the woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, described how the couple behaved like "Jekyll and Hyde", threatening her if she ever revealed the abuse.

She said the couple had abused her once or twice a month from 2005, and said Marke had sex with her on at least 20 occasions.

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