Dunedin doctor Venod Skantha has been found guilty of the murder of Amber-Rose Rush this evening.

It comes some 32 months after 16-year-old Amber-Rose was found in bed with her throat slashed at her Corstorphine home by horrified family members.

The jury of 10 men and two women took just three hours to reach a verdict after a trial which stretched for three-and-a-half weeks in the High Court at Dunedin.

This account comes from the statements of the 69 witnesses who gave evidence at Skantha's High Court trial - as well as NZME and the Otago Daily Times' previous court reporting.


July 2017

Venod Skantha – a doctor at Dunedin Hospital - narrowly avoids being fired for poor performance by telling supervisors his mother had died unexpectedly. His mother is still alive. He turns up to a sit-down with his bosses a day early – then attempts to treat a patient while intoxicated.


Amber-Rose Rush meets Skantha, when she is aged 15, through mutual friends. She told her mother he was an older man who "exclusively hung out with teenagers". Skantha allegedly held a number of parties at his property with mostly teenage guests.

Early January 2018

The victim claims Skantha molested her after a night of heavy drinking. She told a friend she thought she may have been drugged after waking up with Skantha's hand allegedly down her pants and her top and bra removed. She also claimed he offered to pay her up to $20,000 to have sex with him. She told her friend she was no longer speaking to him.

February 2

In the evening, Amber-Rose posts screenshots of a conversation with Skantha on Instagram. In the messages she makes claims he's been supplying alcohol to minors and "touching up young girls". She claims she's taking her evidence to police and the Southern District Health Board.

At 10.58pm CCTV captures someone who appears to be a mutual friend of the two walking towards The Glen in Dunedin.

The mutual friend, a teenager, sends a screenshot of the Instagram post to Skantha.

Skantha and Amber-Rose have a heated exchange about the post over Facebook messenger. Their last messages were sent at 11.25pm.

Skantha calls his teenage friend in front of several other teen witnesses, before he tells the youth he's coming to pick him up.

Amber-Rose Rush was killed on February 2 last year. Photo / Facebook
Amber-Rose Rush was killed on February 2 last year. Photo / Facebook


The South Road CCTV system captures a silver BMW - which the Crown claims belongs to Skantha - driving towards The Glen.

It drives past the camera again, going the other direction at 11.45pm.

At 11.55pm Amber-Rose sends her last message to her boyfriend, Kristin Clark. He becomes concerned when she stops replying to his messages.

February 3

Shortly after 12am Clark leaves his flat to go and check on Amber-Rose.

He arrives at Amber-Rose's Clermiston Ave home around 12.15am and knocks on her window, but receives no response.

Amber-Rose's brother, Jayden Rush, arrives home from work. At 12.17am Clark messages Amber-Rose a final time. He leaves the property.

Between 2.30am and 3am Skantha and his young friend arrive at his girlfriend's house in Balclutha. They spend the night there.

Shortly after 9am Amber-Rose's body is discovered by her mother at their Clermiston Ave home. Emergency services are called and she's pronounced dead at the scene.

Later that morning Skantha suggests to his girlfriend they make a bonfire and roast marshmallows. The group are captured in CCTV footage at the Balclutha Warehouse buying supplies for this. The girlfriend later reports Skantha told her he was burning some old clothes before she joined him at the bonfire.

February 4

In the morning, Skantha and his girlfriend take separate cars back to Dunedin. The teenage witness rides in Skantha's car – where he later tells police Skantha described in detail how he murdered Amber-Rose.

At 2pm Skantha, his girlfriend, and the teenage witness meet with Amber-Rose's mother Lisa Ann Mills in a hotel room. Unbeknownst to them, another woman in the room is an undercover police officer. Skantha asks if it could have been a suicide, then suggests other people who could have killed her.

Amber-Rose Rush first met Venod Skantha when she was 15, through mutual friends. Photo / Facebook
Amber-Rose Rush first met Venod Skantha when she was 15, through mutual friends. Photo / Facebook

Skantha then drops off his young associate at his home – allegedly threatening to hurt his family if he tells anyone. The youth immediately calls family members to warn them, before calling police.

Around 7pm Skantha accidentally cuts his hand while playing with a decorative sword in his house.

On their way home from the Urgent Doctor's at 8.20pm, Skantha and his girlfriend are stopped by police. They are taken back to the station.

After a 45-minute interview at Dunedin Police Station, Skantha is officially placed under arrest at 9.30pm.

February 5

Skantha appears in the Dunedin District Court charged with murder and faces a barrage of abuse from the victim's family members after his name is suppressed.

February 6

Police search a pond at Blackhead Quarry and recover the victim's cellphone.

February 7

Police ask for public sightings of a silver BMW travelling between Dunedin and Balclutha on the night of the alleged murder.

February 20

Four charges of threatening to kill are added to allegations against Skantha.

March 6

Skantha pleads not guilty to all charges.

April 12

The High Court declines electronically-monitored bail.

June 11

The victim's mother – Lisa Ann Mills – dies in a suspected suicide.

July 6

Skantha is again denied electronically-monitored bail after application to the High Court.

September 6

Court of Appeal declines the defendant's third bail bid.

November 22

Pre-trial arguments are heard. Skantha's defence team argues the trial should be heard outside Dunedin.

January 16, 2019

The High Court rules the trial will remain in Dunedin and will take place in the second half of the year.

November 4

The trial begins.

November 27

The jury reaches its verdict.