6 Nov 2019

Amber-Rose Rush murder trial: Accused visited teen's mother after death

4:23 pm on 6 November 2019

The former Dunedin doctor accused of murdering a teenage girl suggested to the 16-year-old's mother she may have committed suicide.

Venod Skantha

Venod Skantha Photo: RNZ / Tim Brown

Venod Skantha is on trial for murdering 16-year-old Amber-Rose Rush on 2 February last year, accused of trying to stop her making claims that would have ended his career. He's also accused of threatening to kill four others in an attempt to cover up the crime.

The trial entered a third day in the High Court at Dunedin today.

The Crown claims Mr Skantha entered her home using a spare key shortly before midnight, smothered her with pillows and stabbed her to death to stop her coming forward with claims that would have ended his career.

The defence accepts an intruder entered Miss Rush's home and killed her, but says it wasn't Mr Skantha.

This morning the jury heard from his former girlfriend Brigid Clinton, who detailed how the 32-year-old met with Miss Rush's mother on 4 February and brought her flowers and a card.

"He sat next to her, talking to her, and suggested you know was it suicide, to which she absolutely vehemently said no and then there were discussions about who could have done it and, I wouldn't say discussions, it was more him going 'oh do you think it was x,y,z'."

Miss Rush's mother later died of a suspected suicide.

Ms Clinton also said she was expecting a visit from Mr Skantha on the day Miss Rush was killed - 2 February.

Following a tense text message exchange at about 1am in the morning of 3 February, she told him she was done with him and not to bother coming.

But Mr Skantha and a teenage friend arrived at about an hour later and he suggested having a bonfire that afternoon.

It was burning when Ms Clinton returned from a trip to The Warehouse with her teenage son.

He told her he used his daggiest clothes to start the fire, she said.

In response to defence questioning, Ms Clinton said it wasn't the first time she and Mr Skantha had a bonfire.

This afternoon the jury of ten men and two women visited the Clermiston Avenue address in the Dunedin suburb of Corstorphine where the teenager died.