Amber-Rose Rush lived by her family's motto: "Stand proud and be just." And she died by it.
The 16 year-old was murdered on February 2 last year just hours after she threatened to expose Dunedin doctor Venod "Vinnie" Skantha to his employers and the police for offering to pay young women for sex.
The "caring, cheeky, spunky" teenager bled to death in her bed after Skantha fatally stabbed her with "one quick incision" to her throat.
More tragedy followed for the family soon afterwards when her mother, Lisa-Ann Rush, died from a suspected suicide four months later.
In his only interview, Amber-Rose's brother, Jayden Rush, told the Herald that Skantha was responsible for it all.
"He is disgusting. He supplied alcohol and drugs to minors and tries to force sex upon them. Amber's text message to him was about going to the police and outing him for who he was and what he's done," Jayden said last year.
"He has blood on his hands — both my sister and mother have gone."
Amber-Rose was born in Christchurch on October 29, 2001. She was the youngest of three siblings and the "boss" right from the start.
At her funeral, her family described her as having a strong sense of justice and "sticking up for the underdog."
"She wasn't afraid to say what she thought," her stepfather Brendon MacNee told mourners. "She didn't take any shit."
"She was tough on the outside but a marshmallow on the inside," said her mother, Lisa-Ann Rush.
To her family Amber-Rose was known as "Peanut", "Ambie-Angel", or "Shorty" who loved eating potato salad and chicken nuggets.
She was obsessed with the colour pink- it dominated her wardrobe and it was the colour of her hair. Three weeks before she died, Amber-Rose bought her first car, a Honda Prelude which had a distinctive pink fluffy steering wheel.
She had started working full-time at the New World supermarket in Dunedin but her goal was to be a dog handler for the police.
The teenager enjoyed playing touch rugby and Tae Kwan Do. She loved drawing religious figures and musicians Tupac and Eminem.
Amber-Rose was a good friend to her friends and to her family.
"Growing up we were really close, we called ourselves 'partners in crime'," said her sister Shantelle. "Amber was more than a sister to me, she was my best friend. I could always call her for advice even though she was five years younger than me."
A former boyfriend spoke at Amber-Rose's funeral of her compassion and empathy.
"When we first met I was depressed and had major anxiety. I didn't have any thoughts of being happy. I remember the first time you kissed me, it took me completely by surprise. It was the first time I really felt anything in a long time."
Mourners also heard a letter that Lisa-Ann wrote to Amber-Rose on her first birthday.
"As I am writing this you are fast asleep and you look gorgeous and peaceful just like the living angel you are. You bring us so much happiness, never forget how much we love you baby girl. I remember the first time I felt you move inside me and the first time I saw you at 3.15 on a beautiful Monday afternoon. I know you will go on to having a beautiful [life] and have a family of your own and then you'll understand the absolute love I have for you."
How Amber-Rose met her killer
Amber-Rose met Skantha, when she was aged just 15, through mutual friends. She told her mother he was an older man who "exclusively hung out with teenagers". At the murder trial, the court was told Skantha held a number of parties at his property with mostly teenage guests.
One of Amber-Rose's closest friends, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said Skantha was quiet.
"When he was drinking, he would shut himself away, distance himself," he said. He and Amber were planning to go flatting with Skantha at his house in the Dunedin suburb of Fairfield but they changed their minds. He and Amber-Rose were like "brother and sister", the man said.
"Me and Amber had similar backgrounds. We had an identical sense of humour. I could talk to her about everything. She was bubbly and sassy — that's how I want to remember her."
The man said Skantha was a "sex pest" who wanted to have sex with Amber-Rose while she was sleeping.
"I know of one time he tried to have sex while she was asleep. I'm not sure how many other times he actively tried. He would offer her from $2000 to $20,000. But he 'shut down' and wouldn't talk to us when Amber said 'No'," the man said.
Amber also told a friend that Skantha molested her after a night of heavy drinking. The jury heard she thought she may have been drugged after waking up with Skantha's hand down her pants and her top and bra removed.
At first the friends thought Skantha seemed like "a genuinely nice guy" until he became overly protective of Amber.
"The more we hung out with him at his house, the more obsessed he got with her. He literally drank every day. When we stayed at his house, he would start work at eight in the morning. He would come into my room with a bottle of wine in his hand, have a swig then leave," the man said.
When the pair decided not to move in, Skantha offered Amber-Rose "free rent, groceries and a new car."
The man said Skantha bragged about obtaining prescription drugs from the hospital and morphine.
"He told us he had stolen drugs from the hospital before. It was easy as and he had no problem getting them for us," the man said.
Two weeks before Amber-Rose's murder Skantha said he was extremely "depressed".
"His drinking skyrocketed to the point he said he wasn't going back to work and threatened about taking his own life. The other worrying thing was he slept with a machete under his bed. He showed it to us and said how easy it would be to take someone's head off with it," the man said.
Skantha was unusually fond of the man's dog in a way he found disturbing.
"It was a very weird, but he would make my dog frisky. He would let her hump him all over his arms and legs. It got to the point he was doing it so much I stopped taking my dog there. It was really messed up. The first couple of times I thought he was drunk but he was enticing my dog to do it which I found unsettling."
Skantha moved into his three-bedroom house in a quiet Fairfield subdivision at midnight on December 15, 2017.
Amber-Rose and her teenage friends were invited for an impromptu party . At 2am a neighbour complained about the loud music.
"I went over in my dressing gown," she said. "It was a hot night, all the windows were open and the music was blaring. There was no furniture in the house apart from a stereo, and a table and chairs that belonged to the previous owners. There were no beds. I saw two boys pashing and teenagers drinking lots of alcohol."
The woman spoke to a boy at the party who said Skantha was into young women.
"He said Vinnie liked to offer them alcohol and drugs. I thought 'Oh my God'. Somebody who is drinking and doing drugs and working as a doctor? I hope I am never his patient," she said.
Skantha was employed by the Southern District Health Board on May 24, 2016. He initially worked in Invercargill, before being transferred to Dunedin Hospital a year later.
His job as a house officer was soon in jeopardy. An independent investigation by the DHB found in July 2017 Skantha went to an orthopaedic ward flushed and smelling of alcohol, and dated a patient's IV incorrectly.
The investigation recommended Skantha should lose his job but through his lawyer, Skantha argued he was grieving over his mother's death.
His mother is still alive. Skantha's parents and his two sisters, who live in Auckland, declined to comment for this story.
One of the Skantha family's neighbours told the Herald the family stayed indoors during the day.
"There are lights on in the evening but they haven't opened their front-window curtains for nearly two years. They keep to themselves, we barely see them," she said.
The neighbour said the family moved into the area three years ago. Skantha used to visit during the summer holidays.
"On Christmas Eve before Vinnie was arrested for the murder we saw him handcuffed and taken away by the police. After he was charged for the murder we worried he would get bail. There are five teenage girls in this neighbourhood. There was an incident where he flew his drone over my daughter who was sunbathing in the backyard. I didn't think anything of it until another neighbour said he did the same thing when his daughters were in their bikinis in the pool."
The night she died
On the night when Amber-Rose was murdered she posted screenshots of a conversation with Skantha on Instagram, claiming he'd been supplying alcohol to minors and "touching up young girls". She said she would give her evidence to police and the Southern District Health Board.
The post provoked a heated exchange between the two on Facebook Messenger. Skantha then drove to her house with a teenager, who later gave evidence against him for the prosecution.
He claimed Skantha killed Amber-Rose with a knife and that he helped Skantha get rid of her phone and clean up afterwards— although he deliberately left a blood spot on the doctor's grey suede shoe and told police where to find it.
Shortly after midnight Amber-Rose's boyfriend, Kristin Clark, left his flat to go and check on her after she stopped replying to his messages at 11.53pm.
He knocked on her window but got no response. He then left because her brother Jayden had arrived home, after finishing his shift as a forklift driver.
Jayden thought it was strange the spare key was in the lock so he knocked on Amber-Rose's door. There was no response, so he went to bed.
The next morning he woke up to "loud screams" from his mother, Lisa-Ann.
He saw Amber-Rose with her ear half cut off, lying in a pool of blood.
"Her head was face down in the pillows. There was blood everywhere. I told mum to call an ambulance. She was freaking out. I went to check for vital signs — but there was nothing. She was cold," Jayden said.
The family moved out of their home but Lisa-Ann found it hard to move on without Amber-Rose. She died from a suspected suicide four months later.
"Things went downhill quickly for mum - she was really sad and couldn't cope. I hope she is with Amber now," Jayden said.
He said their mother "took it upon herself on social media to make sure no one doesn't know who he is and what he has done to her and the family".
"Almost anyone who sees it knows Amber felt the same way."
Lisa-Ann's last words to her daughter were: "My darling Amber you are the most beautiful daughter I could ever ask for — the definition of perfection. Your attitude proves you are tough but you are marshmallow on the inside. Always there for us, looking after us, standing up for us. You are the glue that holds us together - one in a million baby girl. You are my love, my spark, my everything."