Amber-Rose Rush murderer’s appeal set

Vernod Skantha. Photo: ODT files
Vernod Skantha. Photo: ODT files
A Dunedin doctor who stabbed a teenage girl to death because she had threatened to end his career has an appeal date set.

Venod Skantha (32) was found guilty of the murder of 16-year-old Amber-Rose Rush following a jury trial before the High Court at Dunedin in November last year, as well as 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 March hearing that Skantha planned to appeal the convictions on the basis of a ‘‘miscarriage of justice’’, but until now no date had been set for that argument.

The Court of Appeal confirmed to the Otago Daily Times yesterday that the appeal was scheduled for November.

Amber-Rose was found in a pool of blood in the bedroom of her Corstorphine home in the morning of February 3, 2018.

Just hours earlier, cellphone records revealed, Skantha and his victim had been involved in a heated online exchange.

Amber-Rose said she was going to police and the defendant’s Dunedin Hospital bosses with allegations of sexual assaults and providing alcohol to minors.

The court heard at trial that Skantha’s job was already in jeopardy after he had been given a final warning for serious misconduct — the new claims would likely have ended his career, Justice Gerald Nation said.

Skantha’s reaction on the night was to don dark clothes and a beanie and pick up a friend who he had drive him to Amber-Rose’s Clermiston Ave home.

He was inside minutes before he emerged with the teen’s phone, driver’s licence and a knife dripping with blood.

Skantha dumped the phone at the Blackhead quarry and later burned the clothes he had worn.

He told his teenage friend to clean the car and other items, but the victim’s DNA was found in the doctor’s BMW and on his shoes.

Despite Skantha’s death threats against him, the friend told police what had happened and directed them to evidence.

It took the jury just three hours to find Skantha guilty.

He courted further controversy after wearing ear plugs during his sentencing.

Corrections said he had been allowed to wear them during the trip to court but it had been an ‘‘oversight’’ that they remained in.

Amber-Rose’s family said they were ‘‘disgusted’’ by what they saw as his continued disrespect.

Skantha’s appeal will be heard in Wellington.

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