Doctor's request for Amber-Rose trial outside Dunedin declined

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 Dunedin doctor accused of murdering a teenage girl will stand trial in Dunedin despite a bid to move to case out of town.
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.

Amber-Rose Rush and her mother Lisa Ann. Photo: Supplied
Amber-Rose Rush and her mother Lisa Ann, who died in a suspected suicide in June. Photo: Supplied
But in a summary issued by Justice Gerald Nation this afternoon, 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.

The trial was originally scheduled for March but the High Court confirmed today it would now but 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 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.

TIMELINE

Feb 2: Teenager Amber-Rose Rush is found dead in her Corstorphine home by family members
Feb 5: Venod Skantha appears in the Dunedin District Court charged with murder and faces a barrage of abuse from the victim’s family members after his name is suppressed.
Feb 6: Police search waterway near Blackhead Quarry in connection with the case
Feb 7: Police ask for public for sightings of a silver BMW travelling between Dunedin and Balclutha on the night of the alleged killing
Feb 20: Four charges of threatening to kill are added to allegations against Skantha
Mar 6: Skantha pleads not guilty to all charges and appeals decision to lift name suppression
Apr 12: High Court declines electronically-monitored bail
May 21: Court of Appeal rejects name suppression appeal and Skantha is unmasked
May 23: High Court allows publication of the fact defendant is facing a charge of indecent assault
Jul 6: Skantha is again denied electronically-monitored bail after a renewed application to the High Court
Sept 6: Court of Appeal declines the defendant’s third bail bid
Nov 22: Public are shut out of the High Court as pre-trial arguments are heard. Skantha’s defence team argues the trial should be heard outside Dunedin
Jan 16: High Court rules the trial will remain in Dunedin and will take place in the second half of the year

 

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