Doctor may appeal after bid for murder trial outside Dunedin fails

Dunedin health professional Venod Skantha accused of murdering Amber-Rose Rush (16) appears in...
Dunedin health professional Venod Skantha accused of murdering Amber-Rose Rush (16) appears in the Dunedin High Court. Photo: ODT
A doctor accused of murdering a teenage girl has failed in his bid to have the trial moved out of Dunedin, but he may yet appeal that ruling.

Venod Skantha (31) has pleaded not guilty to the murder of Amber-Rose Rush, who was found dead in her Corstorphine home on February 2 last year.

He has also denied charges of indecent assault and four of threatening to kill.

Skantha appeared in the High Court at Dunedin in November when his counsel Jonathan Eaton QC argued to have the trial heard away from the city.

But in a summary issued by Justice Gerald Nation yesterday, he rejected that application.

''Justice Nation held that it will be possible to empanel a jury for Dr Skantha's trial in Dunedin that will be able to keep to their judicial promise to reach a verdict solely on the evidence that is put before them,'' the document said.

''Justice Nation said he was satisfied that it would be possible to hold Dr Skantha's trial in Dunedin before a jury which will be able to reach a verdict solely on the evidence, uninfluenced by feelings of prejudice or sympathy.''

Mr Eaton told the Otago Daily Times yesterday he would not rule out a challenge to the Court of Appeal and the issue was ''under review''.

The trial was originally scheduled for March but the High Court confirmed yesterday it would now be held in the ''latter half of 2019''.

Skantha - then a doctor at Dunedin Hospital - was charged within days of
Amber-Rose's death.

The defendant was twice declined electronically-monitored bail by the High Court and that decision was upheld by the Court of Appeal in a ruling made in September.

Skantha graduated from Auckland University in 2014 and was previously registered to practise medicine as a ''house officer'' at the Southern District Health Board.

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