A Dunedin doctor accused of killing a teenage girl is in court to hear lengthy legal arguments about his case.

Venod Skantha, 31, has pleaded not guilty to the murder of 16-year-old Amber-Rose Rush, who was found dead in her Corstorphine home on February 2 last year.

The case has been the subject of several hearings and bail applications, for most of which Skantha has appeared by audio-visual link.

Today in the High Court at Dunedin two days of pre-trial arguments began and the defendant – dressed smartly in a pink shirt and dress pants - sat flanked by Corrections officers behind his counsel Jonathan Eaton QC.


From the outset, Justice Gerald Nation stressed all discussions would be suppressed to preserve fair-trial rights on behalf of both Crown and defence.

His judgements stemming from the hearing, he said, would also be withheld.

Amber-Rose Rush with her mother Lisa Ann who died in June last year. Photo / Supplied
Amber-Rose Rush with her mother Lisa Ann who died in June last year. Photo / Supplied

As well as the murder charge, Skantha has denied a charge of indecent assault and four of threatening to kill.

The most recent development in the case came last month when the judge rejected an application to have the trial held outside Dunedin.

"Justice Nation held that it will be possible to empanel a jury for Dr Skantha's trial in Dunedin that will be able to keep to their judicial promise to reach a verdict solely on the evidence that is put before them," a document released by the court said.

The trial was originally scheduled for next month but it is now expected to go ahead in the second half of this year.

Skantha, who was a doctor at Dunedin Hospital, was charged within days of Amber-Rose's death.

He has twice been declined electronically-monitored bail by the High Court and that decision was upheld by the Court of Appeal in a ruling made in September.