The grieving father of a teenager brutally killed by a Dunedin doctor says justice has finally been handed down for his "beautiful young girl".
Shane Rush addressed media yesterday evening outside the High Court at Dunedin after a jury unanimously found Venod Skantha, 32, was responsible for murdering 16-year-old Amber-Rose Rush.
Skantha was also convicted on four counts of threatening to kill after the jury deliberated for three hours.
He looked down briefly before the jury foreman delivered the verdicts but stood dispassionately as they were read. He was remanded in custody until March 6 for sentencing.
Surrounded by family, Shane Rush thanked police, the judge and jury for "the time and effort it took to get some justice for our beautiful young girl".
"This has been such a horrendous time for us all. The taking of Amber-Rose's life has affected our family in every way. Two family members are now gone and everyone else now has to find a way to move on."
The death of Amber-Rose's mother was a suspected suicide.
Justice Gerald Nation thanked the jurors for applying themselves to a difficult, demanding responsibility before discharging them.
After Skantha was led to the cells tearful members of Amber-Rose's family embraced in the public gallery.
Defence counsel Jonathan Eaton, QC, would not comment on whether there would be an appeal.
Amber-Rose was found by her mother stabbed to death in the bed of her Dunedin home on the morning of February 3 last year. Soon after, police saw an online conversation which put the junior doctor to the forefront of their investigation.
On February 2, Skantha had messaged the victim about a payment on his credit card for which he thought she may be responsible.
Amber-Rose reacted angrily and asked the defendant about molesting teenagers, offering them money for sex and plying them with alcohol.
She later posted a screenshot of the conversation, including her allegations, on Instagram.
Minutes before her death she confirmed she was serious about taking her complaints to police and Skantha's bosses at Dunedin Hospital.
The court heard he was on a final warning at the time after turning up to a work meeting after consuming beers and treating a patient while off duty and in a "highly emotional" state.
He killed Amber-Rose, the Crown said, to protect his medical career.
Alongside the claims he indecently assaulted Amber-Rose, other teenage girls gave evidence during the trial of sexual impropriety.
While defence counsel Eaton said the claims were made just to "blacken the character" of his client, the Crown — led by prosecutor Robin Bates — said it proved the defendant would have known there was force behind the victim's threats.
Once the online conversation with Amber-Rose ended, Skantha picked up a 16-year-old friend who then drove him to Clermiston Ave.
The Crown said the doctor must have taken the knife as part of his "master plan" to silence the girl.
Amber-Rose suffered six wounds to her neck, one of which caused her to bleed to death, a pathologist said.
He emerged from the house, the Crown's key witness said, carrying a bloody knife and the victim's phone and driver's licence. Police later found the phone at Blackhead Quarry.
The witness said he was ordered to clean the doctor's silver BMW while the man put his clothes in a bag.
Despite that, Amber-Rose's blood was found in the passenger side of the vehicle and on Skantha's shoes.
The pair travelled to Skantha's ex-girlfriend's house in Balclutha where Skantha burned the bloody garments.
Later, he threatened to kill his teen associate, his family members and his cat if he told what had happened. That was repeated when he dropped the boy home on February 4.
When Skantha was arrested later that day, he denied any involvement in Amber-Rose's killing or stopping at her house two days earlier. Unbeknown to him, the boy had earlier told officers the entire story.