Dr Strange actor Zara Phythian and husband guilty of child sex charges

Actress Zara Phythian, who featured in the 2016 Marvel movie Dr Strange, and her husband have been found guilty of a string of child sex charges after jointly grooming and abusing a teenage girl.

Phythian, who also runs a martial arts academy, was found guilty of 14 counts of sexual activity with a child committed between 2005 and 2008, when the victim was aged in her early teens.

Jurors at Nottingham Crown Court also convicted the 37-year-old’s husband Victor Marke, aged 59, of the same 14 offences and indecent assault charges relating to another under-age girl he abused on at least eight occasions between 2002 and 2003.

Zara Phythian is known for Accident Man 2 (2022), Tribal Get Out Alive (2020) and Marvel's Doctor Strange (2016) where she starred with Benedict Cumberbatch.

The child was given rum and asked if she wanted to play a game of dare

The alleged abuse began when the child was given rum and Phythian, of Taurus Close, Mansfield, asked her if she wanted to play a game of "dare".

Phythian, an experienced martial artist, dared the child to join in a sex act with her and her husband Victor, of Mavis Avenue, Ravenshead, the trial heard.

The victim, who cannot be named, told the court that Marke made threats against her and ordered her to film some of the abuse at the hands of the "Jekyll and Hyde" couple.

Phythian denied having any sexual contact with the victim, who was able to describe a Chinese calligraphy tattoo the actress has near her private parts.

The victim, who came forward after a separate complaint in 2016, described how Marke pretended to be asleep before joining in what she believed was pre-planned abuse alongside Phythian.

The victim was abused at least 20 times as the offences continued until she was 16, Nottingham court hears

Jurors unanimously convicted the couple after deliberating over two days.

They also convicted Marke of four counts of indecent assault relating to a girl he abused when she was 15.

Phythian appeared upset in the dock, she wiped away a tear as she was lead away to the cells. Her husband followed behind.

Marke, of Ravenshead, Nottinghamshire, denied that he was attracted to girls aged in their early teens.

He repeatedly broke down in the witness box as he denied touching one victim sexually, and said the other complainant had given him oral sex when he was drunk and she had turned 18.

He told the jury: "There were no excuses. I have apologised to my wife."

He also rejected prosecution claims that he and Phythian had "encouraged threesomes" when their victim was 13, 14 and 15, telling the jury: "It’s not the reality at all."

Following the verdicts on Wednesday, Judge Mark Watson remanded both defendants in custody until next Monday, telling them their sentence would be "likely to be measured by a considerable period of custody".