Warning: Distressing content

Less then two days after a teenage girl's death, police were tailing a Dunedin doctor, a court has heard.

Venod Skantha has pleaded not guilty to the murder of 16-year-old Amber-Rose Rush and four counts of threatening to kill at the outset of his trial before the High Court at Dunedin.

The victim was allegedly stabbed to death in the bed of her Corstorphine home around midnight on February 2 after the defendant was driven to the address by a teenage boy.


The Crown case is that Skantha killed the victim because she had threatened to out him to police and hospital bosses as a sex abuser, which would have effectively ended his medical career.

By the afternoon of February 4, police were following the defendant, who was being driven around Dunedin by his ex-girlfriend, lawyer Brigid Clinton.

Defence counsel Jonathan Eaton QC revealed as much during his cross-examination this afternoon, reading from police documents.

The pair had dropped the teenager – set to be the key witness when he gives evidence next week – at his home before returning to Skantha's Fairfield house where they drank wine on the deck.

Eaton asked Clinton whether she had heard any whispering between the defendant and his mate as she drove.

She had not.

The teenager had later made a statement to police that Skantha had quietly said "no word or I'll kill you", then laughed and shook his hand, before he got out, Eaton said.

Clinton said she had not heard such an exchange.


Accused discussed potential suspects with victim's mum: witness

Two days after allegedly stabbing Amber-Rose, Skantha met the victim's mum and gave her flowers and a card.

Skantha bought the items, Ms Clinton told the High Court at Dunedin today, from New World – where Amber-Rose had worked.

Dr Venod Skantha is on trial for the murder of 16-year-old Amber-Rose Rush.
Dr Venod Skantha is on trial for the murder of 16-year-old Amber-Rose Rush.

After spending a couple of nights at Clinton's Balclutha home, during which the Crown said Skantha burned the bloodied clothes he wore to commit the murder, they went back to his Dunedin house.

While there, she said the defendant's 16-year-old friend got a call from Amber-Rose's mother Lisa Anne Rush.

She wanted to speak to anyone who had had contact with her daughter.

A decision was made, Clinton said, to visit Lisa Anne Rush in the hotel at which she was staying and the items were purchased on the way.

Dunedin doctor murder trial: Amber-Rose Rush's boyfriend worried night of death
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
Dunedin doctor murder trial: Amber-Rose Rush's boyfriend visited her home on night she died

Skantha also bought a couple of bottles of wine for himself.

"Lisa was obviously really upset . . . pale, in shock," Clinton told the court.

"I remember Venod was 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.

At home, Clinton said her ex-partner seemed in "irritated, almost indignant" mood and was receiving numerous alerts on his phone.

He asked her to retrieve his samurai sword.

Amber-Rose, left, with her mother Lisa Anne Rush.
Amber-Rose, left, with her mother Lisa Anne Rush.

While "waving it around above himself", Skantha cut his finger and Clinton took him to the urgent doctor to be stitched up.

On their way home, police pulled them over and they were taken for interview.

"I was in shock," she said, after being told of the allegations.

The Crown case is that Skantha killed Amber-Rose because he was concerned she would follow through on threats to make sexual allegations to police and his hospital bosses.

It would have effectively ended his medical career, prosecutor Richard Smith said.

Accused toasted marshmallows while burning evidence: Witness

After committing the alleged murder, the Crown said Skantha was driven home by his mate and then south to Clinton's.

She told the court this morning their relationship of more than a year had ended a couple of months before the night of Amber-Rose's death but she was expecting Skantha to visit her that evening to sign some legal documents.

At about 1am, approximately an hour after the alleged murder, she received a message from her ex-boyfriend saying he had been asleep and was now coming over.

Clinton told him not to.

She was "done with him, done with it", she said.

An hour later, however, Skantha arrived at the house along with his 16-year-old associate.

They all went to bed and the next day visited The Warehouse.

"Venod mentioned having a bonfire; something to do," Clinton said.

They couldn't find a coal bucket but purchased a large terracotta pot instead.

Shortly after getting home, Clinton went back to the store to return one of the items they had bought and came home to find the fire ablaze in the yard of the property.

"Venod said he was burning his daggiest clothes," she told the court.

They consisted of a charcoal grey jumper he wore around the house and a pair of light grey sweat pants, he told her.

Clinton said she sat and talked with Skantha while they toasted marshmallows over the flames.

The ashes were later tossed into the garden, the witness said.

In cross-examination by defence counsel Jonathan Eaton QC, the woman said her ex-boyfriend had a growing alcohol problem.

Clinton said Skantha was drinking sauvignon blanc "pretty much non-stop" by the end of their relationship, swigging from the bottle.

"He took steps to try and sort himself out but it just didn't last," she said.

After lunch, the jury is being taken to view the scene where Amber-Rose died before evidence continues this afternoon.