Dr Strange actress Zara Phythian and husband jailed for combined 22 years for abuse of underage girl

·2-min read

Dr Strange actress Zara Phythian has been jailed for eight years for the sexual abuse of a girl who was aged between 13 and 15.

Her husband, Victor Marke, has been given a 14-year sentence in prison by Judge Mark Watson at Nottingham Crown Court after the couple were found guilty last week.

The judge told Marke: "I regard you as the driving force behind the abuse.

"You were clearly aware of this first incident but pretended to be asleep."

He told Phythian: "On the evidence, I have heard I am in no doubt that your deviance was shaped by the influence that he [Marke] had upon you from an early age", adding that "none of this excuses what you did".

Marke and Phythian were found guilty last week of 14 counts of sexual activity with a child after jointly grooming and abusing a girl between 2005 and 2009.

Marke was also found guilty of indecently assaulting a second complainant.

Phythian featured in the 2016 blockbuster Marvel film Dr Strange alongside Benedict Cumberbatch and ran a martial arts academy.

She appeared calm in the dock on Monday as she was told the abuse was aggravated by its prolonged nature.

Judge Watson told the couple he believed the start of the abuse was pre-planned.

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

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

During the two-week trial, Phythian denied being a paedophile and her husband, who was also a martial arts instructor, broke down in the witness box.

He also denied touching one victim sexually and said the other complainant had given him oral sex when he was drunk and she had turned 18.

The jury heard about the abuse began when Phythian asked the victim: "Do you want to play a dare?" and invited her to copy a sex act she performed on Marke.

The victim, who cannot be named, told the court that Marke threatened her and ordered her to film some of the abuse at the hands of the couple.

Phythian said she was given a chance to star in films after being "spotted" at a martial arts contest in the US.