7 Nov 2019

Deep neck wound was fatal blow for Amber-Rose Rush - pathologist

1:17 pm on 7 November 2019

The trial of the former Dunedin doctor accused of murdering Amber-Rose Rush has been told the teenager was stabbed with enough force to sever her carotid artery and cause damage to her spine and windpipe.

Warning: This story contains details that may be distressing to some readers.

Amber-Rose Rush.

A pathologist has detailed a list of wounds that were inflicted on Amber-Rose Rush on the night she died in February, 2018, at her home in Dunedin. Photo: Supplied

The Crown says Venod Skantha killed 16-year-old Miss Rush on 2 February last year to stop her coming forward with claims that would have ended his career, including supplying minors with alcohol and offering money for sex.

The Crown case is that shortly before midnight a teenage friend drove Mr Skantha to Miss Rush's home in the Dunedin suburb of Corstorphine, drew a map of the house's layout on the dashboard of the car, and told him where to find a spare key.

The Crown says Mr Skantha then entered the home, went to the teenager's bedroom, smothered her with pillows and stabbed her to death to stop her coming forward with claims he was "touching up" minors, giving them alcohol and offering money for sex.

The defence accepts an intruder killed Miss Rush, but says Mr Skantha was not the intruder.

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The jury of 10 men and two women this morning heard from forensic pathologist Dr Kate White, who carried out the autopsy.

She said Miss Rush suffered several wounds to her neck and throat.

"The most important wound was on the left side of the neck," Dr White said.

"This measured 110mm in length at post-mortem. Within the depths of this wound were injuries to other structures."

Those injuries included a completely severed carotid artery, damage to other blood vessels, her windpipe being mostly severed and the weapon had gone deep enough to leave marks on vertebrae.

The wound split her left ear and ran beyond the base of the skull, and was the fatal blow.

The pathologist estimated the wound to be about five to six centimetres deep at its deepest point.

It would have taken some minutes for Miss Rush to bleed out, Doctor White said.

The teenager had suffered several other injuries during the attack, including two stab wounds to the back of the neck, though most were superficial and none would have been fatal.

During cross-examination from defence lawyer Jonathan Eaton QC, Dr White said there was nothing about Miss Rush's injuries to suggest whether her killer was left-handed or right-handed, or the killer's position relative to the victim at the time of the fatal strikes being delivered.

Venod Skantha

Venod Skantha has pleaded not guilty to the murder of Amber-Rose Rush. Photo: RNZ / Tim Brown