The jury's now out in the case of a Dunedin doctor accused of murder.

Doctor Venod Skantha's High Court trial is drawing to a close - where he's pleaded not guilty to murdering 16-year-old Amber-Rose Rush.

Justice Gerald Nation summarised the case for jurors today - including arguments by both Crown and Defence.

He told them whoever cut Amber-Rose's neck clearly intended to kill her - so it's now up to them to decide whether the Crown proved it was Skantha beyond any reasonable doubt.
The jury was officially released at 2.40 this afternoon.

Advertisement

The Crown says a Dunedin doctor killed a teenage girl with "one quick incision" as she lay in bed, but the defence has rubbished the prosecution's theories.

Venod Skantha, 32, has spent the last three weeks on trial before the High Court at Dunedin charged with the murder of 16-year-old Amber-Rose Rush and four counts of threatening to a kill.

READ MORE:
Amber-Rose Rush told friend Venod Skantha molested her, court hears
Dunedin doctor murder trial: Skantha told police he is 'definitely not a creep'
Dunedin doctor murder trial: Accused Venod Skantha killed teen Amber-Rose Rush to protect his career: Crown
Dunedin doctor murder trial: Accused offered Amber-Rose $20k for sex, court told

Yesterday, the jury heard both Crown and defence closing addresses before they begin their deliberations today with more 1000 pages of evidence and numerous exhibits at their fingertips.

Amber-Rose Rush had threatened to tell people about Venod Skantha's behaviour with young women. Photo / ODT
Amber-Rose Rush had threatened to tell people about Venod Skantha's behaviour with young women. Photo / ODT

Crown prosecutor Robin Bates said Skantha's motive was clear: Amber-Rose had threatened to tell police and his hospital superiors about him "touching up" girls, offering them money for sex and supplying alcohol to minors.

The prosecutor said not only was the doctor's job important to him but he was on a final warning for misconduct at the time.

"Amber alone could bring his career to an end; years of training, costs involved — down the drain, all over rover," he told the jury.

But defence counsel Jonathan Eaton QC said the suggestion a young doctor would kill a girl to protect his career was fanciful.

Advertisement
Defence for Venod Skantha says killing Amber-Rose Rush to save a medical career is a 'fanciful' theory. File photo / supplied
Defence for Venod Skantha says killing Amber-Rose Rush to save a medical career is a 'fanciful' theory. File photo / supplied

"If anything doesn't make sense in this case, it's that theory," he said.

Similarly, Eaton told the court, it was illogical he would go to the victim's Corstorphine home with a 16-year-old driver and subsequently confess to him.

The lawyer said the evidence that the defendant groped the victim as she suggested did not stack up in any event, which was why the girl went back to his house after the alleged incident.

Eaton accepted Skantha had offered Amber-Rose $20,000 for sex but said that had been fuelled by alcohol and was certainly not serious.

Bates told the jury it was significant Amber-Rose was dead within 30 minutes of her last message to Skantha on February 2 last year, and that her phone was taken.

The Crown prosecutor said whoever went inside the Clermiston Ave home in the middle of the night was taking "a massive risk".

"The person who took that risk had to have a very compelling and immediate reason to be there," he said.

Eaton said the police case against his client was "blinkered", and he was highly critical of the Crown's key witness — the teenage driver who was with his client from February 2-4.

He suggested the jury should have heard "screaming alarm bells" when the man called himself a "compulsive liar" in an interview with police.

"This is a story of violence, trauma, emotion, threats, fear. Throughout these interviews we don't see any emotional response from [him]," Eaton said.

It was a different story in court.

The lawyer said the witness did not stand up to scrutiny.

The teenager used the phrase "I can't remember" 161 times and asked for a question to be repeated 26 times, he noted.

While Bates acknowledged the witness was unusual, he said there was a generally clear version of events.

"He's not a person who would viciously kill a friend, a person who was good to him," he said.

Much of the evidence against Venod Skantha is from a teenaged driver who was with the accused for a couple of days in Fenraury 2018. Photo / ODT
Much of the evidence against Venod Skantha is from a teenaged driver who was with the accused for a couple of days in Fenraury 2018. Photo / ODT

Bates said the person who stabbed Amber-Rose, severing her carotid artery and trachea, knew what they were doing, consistent with Skantha's training as a doctor.

"[It was] a focused attack ... to shut Amber up with one quick incision," he said.

"The person who did this was really really angry."

The defence had a different theory.

The key witness, Eaton told the jury, was infatuated with the young doctor.

"He was in awe of this guy, obsessed with his car ... loved being his driver," he said.

"He treasured that relationship. I suggest he'd do anything to protect Venod Skantha."

When Skantha was questioned by police two days after Amber-Rose's death he denied any involvement.

The Crown said the defendant lied throughout and tried to distance himself from the victim.

The prosecution said the person who stabbed Amber-Rose, severing her carotid artery and trachea, knew what they were doing, consistent with Skantha's training as a doctor. Photo / ODT
The prosecution said the person who stabbed Amber-Rose, severing her carotid artery and trachea, knew what they were doing, consistent with Skantha's training as a doctor. Photo / ODT

Eaton, though, stressed his client gave the statement voluntarily and without a lawyer and his demeanour only changed when the accusations began flying.

"He was hurt by it; offended, shocked and hurt," he said.

It might have crossed jurors' minds, Eaton said, that both Skantha and his teenage associate were involved in the stabbing.

But that was not the Crown case, and if they were unsure, they must acquit the defendant, he said.

Justice Gerald Nation will sum up the case this morning, then the jury's deliberations will begin.