25 Mar 2020

Killer of Dunedin teen appeals conviction and sentence

4:18 pm on 25 March 2020

The former Dunedin doctor convicted of murdering Dunedin teenager Amber-Rose Rush maintains his innocence and claims there has been a miscarriage of justice.

Venod Skantha

Venod Skantha Photo: RNZ / Tim Brown

Venod Skantha has appealed his conviction and sentence.

The 32-year-old was earlier this month sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum non-parole period of 19 years.

Skantha will not be eligible for parole until 2037.

The trial heard Skantha stabbed the 16-year-old to death in her bed shortly before midnight on 2 February 2018. She was found by her mother the following morning.

Rush had threatened to come forward with claims of sexual assault, providing minors with alcohol and offering money for sex.

The Crown said those claims would have ended his medical career.

He showed up to work in July 2017, while off-duty and after drinking, and treated a patient - flushing the woman's IV line in the company of friends.

He only saved his employment on that occasion by lying about the death of his mother.

Skantha's defence at his trial, which he maintained at sentencing, was that the prosecution's key witness murdered Rush.

At trial Skantha's lawyer, Jonathan Eaton QC, suggested to the witness - who had name suppression because of his age - he had killed Rush out of some misplaced sense of loyalty to the doctor.

The teenage boy vehemently denied being involved in killing Rush.

Eaton confirmed to RNZ the appeal was filed on the day of sentencing.

RNZ understands it centres on the admissibility of certain evidence heard during the three-week trial in November last year.