The trial of a Dunedin doctor accused of murdering a 16-year-old girl in her bed has heard the teen's boyfriend visited her home around the time she was killed.

Venod Skantha, 32, has pleaded not guilty to the murder of Amber-Rose Rush in February last year. The Crown says he killed the teen in her bed to stop her telling police and his hospital managers about him allegedly supplying alcohol and drugs to teens.

The defence says some other "intruder" committed the murder on February 2 last year in Dunedin.

Amber-Rose's boyfriend at the time has just appeared on the stand.

Amber-Rose Rush was fatally stabbed six times in her bed at her home on February 2 last year.
Amber-Rose Rush was fatally stabbed six times in her bed at her home on February 2 last year.

The young man told the Court they'd been messaging each other on Snapchat the night she died.

He said she'd been talking about going to confront Skantha about an issue she was having with him - and he became concerned when she stopped replying.

The witness said he then drove to her Corstorphine house.

He said he knocked on her window and messaged Amber several times - but left after receiving no reply.

He also revealed he knew where the family kept their spare key - used by an intruder to enter the house the night she died.

Amber-Rose's brother Jayden took the stand on day two of the trial today. He told the court he had met some of her previous boyfriends - and that one had struck her at one stage.

Amber-Rose's mother - Lisa-Ann Mills - had also told police they had had issues with one of them harassing her on social media - and one appearing with a hammer outside their home one night.

The dead teen's sister Shantelle said Amber had told her her first boyfriend would drive past and scream things at the house.


"He got a bit violent with her - and ended up breaking her arm."

Venod Skantha is charged with the teenager's murder.
Venod Skantha is charged with the teenager's murder.

Shantelle also told the court what she knew about Skantha - who Amber called "Vinny".
She said Amber-Rose, and another of her close friends, had been invited to move into his new house.

Messages sent between them read:

"It's so flash lamo. I'll be living with a rich doctor!"

Amber told her he was aged 30 and lonely - and only hung out with teenagers.

"He's like a Dad to us."

Messages also showed Shantelle was concerned he was sexually grooming her.

She also revealed a potential plan to blackmail Skantha.

Messages sent between her and Amber-Rose show that their mother, Lisa-Ann, and Amber were planning to go to his house to ask for money.

"I know he'll do it... [I'll ask for] as much as I can because he's sick and I'm going to get him in trouble."

The Crown case

Skantha stabbed Amber-Rose to death to protect his fragile medical career, the Crown told the High Court at Dunedin yesterday.

The 32-year-old was on his final warning at Dunedin Hospital when the Crown says he murdered Amber-Rose Rush in her Corstorphine home on February 2 last year.

Hospital bosses had originally decided to sack the defendant but gave him one more chance, after he explained his mother had recently died.

Crown prosecutor Richard Smith told the jury yesterday that had been a lie.

Through 2017 and early 2018, Skantha was supplying young people with drugs and alcohol at social gatherings.

His friendship with Amber-Rose soured after she accused him of indecently assaulting her.

Minutes before her death, she spoke to the defendant on Facebook Messenger, an exchange which became increasingly strained.


"Imma make sure EVERYONE knows what a sick * * * * you are, including your work AND the police.''

After she confirmed the threat was legitimate, Skantha allegedly contacted a 16-year-old friend and organised to go to her home.

He had a "master plan'', he said.

The Crown said the teenager then explained to the defendant where Amber-Rose's bedroom was and that there was a spare key under an ornamental Buddha on the porch.
The marks in the dust on the vehicle's dashboard used to map the scene were still visible when police examined it.

Skantha followed those directions, Mr Smith said, found the victim, muffled her cries with a pillow and stabbed her six times in the throat and neck.

One injury penetrated through to the bone and almost severed her ear, the court heard.

Amber-Rose's phone was dumped in a pond at Blackhead, which Mr Smith said was consistent with Skantha trying to hide the incriminating messages.

The defendant and his teenage associate then allegedly went back to the man's home where he instructed the boy to clean the silver BMW.

Mr Smith said police found blood, likely to be Amber-Rose's, in the passenger side of the car.

More was found on the inside of a plastic bag in which the defendant allegedly put his clothes before burning them at his girlfriend's home in Balclutha.

A pair of shoes at that address also had blood on them, the court heard.

Before dropping his teenage friend off at his home, Skantha allegedly threatened to kill him and three family members if he spoke of what happened.

Shortly after, however, he went to police.

Amber-Rose's mother Lisa Ann Rush, who died of a suspected suicide last year, described seeing "a glimpse of red'' when she went into the teen's bedroom in the morning.

She suspected a nosebleed at first before discovering the tragedy.

"Amber wasn't moving at all. I was screaming.''

Ms Rush recalled a time she picked Amber-Rose up from Skantha's home when she was unusually quiet and withdrawn.

One of the girl's friends later explained the defendant had offered Amber-Rose money for sex.

It began at $50 and ended at $20,000, they said.

"When I found out ... I told her I wanted to kill him,'' Ms Rush said.

Defence case

Defence counsel Jonathan Eaton QC, in his opening address, told the jury the evidence the Crown relied upon to prove the charges was either untruthful or unreliable.

It was accepted that Amber was killed in her bed by an intruder, "an intruder who knew how to get into the house in the dark of night, an intruder who knew where her bedroom was. That intruder was not Venod Skantha''.

He told the court the idea that the defendant committed murder to protect his career did not fit.

"It makes no sense.''

The trial before Justice Gerald Nation and a jury of 10 men and two women continues.