The Dunedin doctor imprisoned for the infamous murder of a teenage girl who had threatened him with allegations of sexual assault is back in court to fight against his convictions.
Amber-Rose Rush, 16, was found dead in a pool of blood in her bedroom in Corstorphine in southwest Dunedin in early February, 2018.
Venod Skantha, 32, was charged with her murder, and found guilty by a jury in the High Court at Dunedin in November last year. He was also found guilty on four counts of threatening to kill.
He was later sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum non-parole period of 19 years.
The court heard at the sentencing Skantha planned to appeal against the convictions on the basis of a “miscarriage of justice”.
His hearing is set down for this morning in the Court of Appeal in Wellington, where a panel of judges will listen to arguments appealing Skantha’s conviction and sentence.
Amber-Rose and Skantha met in 2017 through mutual friends when she was aged 15.
She told her mother he was an older man who “exclusively hung out with teenagers”.
In early January 2018, Amber-Rose alleged Skantha sexually assaulted 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.
Then, on the evening of February 2, she posted screenshots of a conversation with Skantha on Instagram, claiming he had been supplying alcohol and “touching up young girls”. She then said she would be approaching police and the hospital with her claims.
At that point, Skantha had already been given a final warning for misconduct.
She and Skantha got into a heated argument over Facebook messenger, following which he put on dark clothes and had a teenage friend drive him to Amber-Rose’s home in Clermiston Ave.
When he emerged from the house, he was carrying the victim’s phone, licence, and a blood-soaked knife.
He told his friend to clean the car and other items, but an investigation uncovered Amber-Rose’s DNA in the doctor’s BMW and on his shoes.
Despite Skantha making death threats against him, the friend told police what happened and showed them where to find the evidence.
Skantha was arrested the day after Amber-Rose’s body was found.
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