Actress Zara Phythian and husband jailed for child sex offences

By Ben Truslove
BBC News

  • Published
Victor and Zara Marke Instagram photoImage source, Zara Phythian/Instagram
Image caption,
Victor Marke and Zara Phythian married in 2015

A film actress and her martial arts instructor husband have been jailed for child sex offences.

Zara Phythian - who appeared in Doctor Strange with Benedict Cumberbatch - sexually abused a 13-year-old girl together with her husband Victor Marke.

Marke also sexually abused a 15-year-old girl on his own.

At Nottingham Crown Court, Phythian, who is 37, was jailed for eight years while her husband, 59, was sentenced to 14 years in prison.

Judge Mark Watson said Marke was the "driving force behind the abuse".

Addressing Phythian, the judge added: "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."

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Phythian got the part of "brunette zealot" in Doctor Strange, which starred Benedict Cumberbatch in the title role

The court heard the couple met when he was her martial arts instructor, and Phythian went on to have a successful career in martial arts, as a stuntwoman, and actress.

Marke, from Mavis Avenue, Ravenshead, Nottinghamshire, was charged with four counts of indecently assaulting a child between 2002 and 2003.

The pair were jointly charged with 14 counts of sexual activity with a child between 2005 and 2008.

They both denied the offences but were found guilty by a jury and sentenced at the same court on Monday.

Marke was sentenced to four years for abusing the girl on his own and a further 10 years for the abuse of the second victim with Phythian, from Taurus Close, Mansfield, Nottinghamshire.

Phythian - who was tried under her married name of Zara Marke - was jailed for eight years for her part in the abuse of the second victim.

Image source, Nottinghamshire Police
Image caption,
The judge said Marke was the "driving force behind the abuse"

The first victim told the court that what Marke did to her "nearly broke my mum".

In a victim impact statement read to the court, the second victim thanked the first woman for telling the police.

She added she had been a "cheeky and socially awkward" 13-year-old who was an easy target for the pair.

"You robbed me of my innocence, corrupted me... leaving me unable to create good and balanced relationships," she said.

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

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