Warning: Distressing content
Less than two days after allegedly stabbing a 16-year-old girl to death, a Dunedin doctor suggested to her mother it was probably a suicide.
When Amber-Rose Rush's mother, Lisa Ann, "vehemently" denied that, Venod Skantha raised the names of a few people who might be involved.
The 32-year-old is on trial for murder and four counts of threatening to kill before the High Court at Dunedin.
Yesterday, the defendant's ex-girlfriend, Balclutha lawyer Brigid Clinton, said she had planned to see Skantha on February 2 last year but he did not show up.
The Crown said Skantha was involved in a heated online exchange with Amber-Rose that night, which ended with her confirming she would tell police and his hospital bosses that he had sexually assaulted her.
Prosecutors said the desire to silence her resulted in the defendant asking a teenage friend to drive him to the girl's Corsorphine home, then stabbing the victim six times as she lay in her bed around midnight.
Skantha and the teen — who has name suppression — later drove to Clinton's house, despite Clinton telling him not to.
They all went to bed and the next day visited The Warehouse where Skantha bought a large terracotta pot then lit a fire in it in the backyard. "Venod said he was burning his daggiest clothes," she told the court.
The Crown told the jury at the trial's outset that the garments were covered in Amber-Rose's blood.
Clinton said they toasted marshmallows over the flames.
• Dunedin doctor murder trial: Accused discussed potential suspects with victim's mum: witness
• Dunedin doctor murder trial: Accused Venod Skantha killed teen Amber-Rose Rush to protect his career: Crown
• Dunedin doctor Venod Skantha on trial for murder of Dunedin teen Amber-Rose Rush
• Murder trial: Doctor Venod Skantha accused of killing Dunedin teen Amber-Rose Rush
After the defendant's teenage friend got a call from Amber-Rose's mother wanting to speak to anyone who had had contact with her daughter, they decided to visit Lisa Rush.
They stopped at New World on the way — the supermarket where Amber-Rose had worked — and Skantha bought flowers and a card for the grieving mother.
"Lisa was obviously really upset ... pale, in shock," Clinton told the court. "Venod sat next to her and suggested it was a suicide to which she vehemently said no."
There was then a discussion about potential suspects, she said, before they left, dropping the teen off.
Back home, Clinton said, Skantha asked her to retrieve his samurai sword. While "waving it around" Skantha cut his finger and Clinton took him to the urgent doctor to be stitched up.
Unbeknown to them, police had been tailing them and as they left the medical centre officers pulled them over and they were separated for interviews.
"I was in shock," Clinton said, after being told of the allegations.