Doctor Strange Star Zara Phythian and her husband Victor Marke have been found guilty of a number of child sex abuse charges after they nurtured and abused a teenage girl together.
Before sentencing, the court heard the police interview with the woman who made the allegations, who claimed the couple molested her when she was aged 13 to 15 over the course of 2005 to 2008.
You need to know.
Who is Zara Phythian?
Phythian is a British actress, stunt performer and professional martial artist – she is a former 13-time multi-style sport martial arts world champion. In 2009, she set a Guinness World Record for most objects kicked off a person’s head in one minute.
She was also inducted into the International Karate and Kickboxing Hall of Fame.
After competing for and winning four US National Belt titles at an event in America, she was discovered and cast as an actress in an independent science fiction film. From then on, Phythian retired from the international scene to pursue a career on the silver screen.
She has also appeared in other roles including Tribal Get Out Alive, Transit 17, Dragon Kingdom, Outlawed, Furor: Rage of the Innocent and Plant.
Phythian is also credited as a stunt double in the 2012 film Alien Uprising and curfewand as a stunt coordinator for Macbeth, Landlord: Time to pay the rent, cannibals and carpet layers and veneer.
According to her IMDb, Phythian is currently in the process of filming a TV show Martial Arts Roadshow in which she is billed as a presenter. She also appears to be directing a film called unit 19 also. Two of her other projects, Argh and accident man 2are listed as being in post-production.
Who is husband Victor Marke?
Less is known about the brand. He is also a professional martial artist and taekwondo instructor who has performed a few stunts in films.
On IMDb he is mentioned as a producer, director and writer of Fury: Fury of the innocent and Editor and Action Director of Landlord: Time to pay the rent.
It is not known when Marke and Phythian married or if they have children together.
What have they been accused of?
The couple have been charged with 14 joint charges of sexual activity with a child, including having sex with a 13-year-old girl after allegedly grooming her.
In an interview with police, played outside Nottingham Crown Court, the woman said the abuse took place between 2005 and 2008 when she was between 13 and 15 years old.
At the time, Phythian was between 20 and 21 when the alleged abuse began and Marke was 42 or 43.
The court heard that the couple, who were not married at the time, were both martial arts instructors and that the woman looked up to Phythian. She said the first offenses occurred after Phythian and Marke gave her alcohol.
Phythian allegedly prompted the woman to give Marke oral sex and then had sex with both of them.
She was quoted by the BBC saying, “I knew it was wrong, but I just didn’t know how to get out of the situation or say anything.
“I remember copying Zara’s reaction at the time because I looked up to her and tried to be like her in every way.”
According to the Nottinghamshire Livethe woman said she felt “coached” by Phythian and estimated that Marke had sex with her on 20 separate occasions.
As the alleged abuse continued, the woman said Marke threatened to smash her kneecap if she told anyone what was going on.
She told police: “He just said nobody would believe me if I told them anyway.
“You always had power over me.”
Marke also faces four other charges of indecent assault on a child in relation to another woman who went to the police.
The court heard that Marke allegedly molested this other woman between 2002 and 2003 when she was 15 years old. At the time, Marke was married to another woman named Juliet.
When his relationship with his first wife broke up, Marke had an affair with Phythian when she too was a teenager.
Phythian, 36, and Marke, 59, denied any offence.
Were they convicted?
Phythian was found guilty at Nottingham Crown Court of 14 counts of sexual activity with a child aged 13 to 15 between 2005 and 2008.
The jury also convicted the 37-year-old’s husband, Victor Marke, 59, of the same 14 felony counts and indecent assault charges related to another underage girl he molested at least eight times between 2002 and 2003.
Phythian, of Mansfield, denied being a pedophile during her two-week trial while her husband collapsed on the witness stand. She denied having any sexual contact with the victim, who could describe a Chinese calligraphy tattoo the actress has near her privates.
After two days of deliberation, the jury unanimously convicted the couple.
They also convicted Marke of four counts of indecent assault in connection with a girl he molested when she was 15 years old.
In police interviews following the couple’s 2017 arrest, Phythian, who was trial under her married name, Marken, told officers the allegations against her were “bulls**t.”
During four interviews about the claims against her, she also suggested that her victim, now an adult, may have seen her intimate tattoo while she was in a dressing room.
Marke, from Ravenshead, Nottinghamshire, denied that he was attracted to girls in their early teens.
He repeatedly broke down on the witness stand when he denied sexually touching a victim and said the other applicant gave him oral sex when he was drunk and she had turned 18.
He told the jury: “There were no excuses. I apologized to my wife.”
He also dismissed prosecution claims that he and Phythian “promoted threesomes” when their victim was 13, 14 and 15, telling the jury, “That’s not at all the reality.”
Following Wednesday’s verdicts, Judge Mark Watson has remanded both defendants until next Monday, telling them their sentences “are likely to be measured against a substantial period of imprisonment.”