Fourth bid for bail by doctor accused of murdering Dunedin teen

Venod Skantha. Photo: ODT
Venod Skantha. Photo: ODT
A Dunedin doctor accused of killing a teenage girl has applied for bail for the fourth time.

Venod Skantha (31) has pleaded not guilty to the murder of 16-year-old Amber-Rose Rush, who was found dead in her Corstorphine home on February 2 last year.

Skantha has been denied bail and electronically monitored bail by the High Court and the Court of Appeal three times in the past.

A fresh application for bail can be made if there is a material change in circumstances.

Justice Gerald Nation heard the bail bid in the High Court at Dunedin yesterday and reserved his judgement.

Skantha sat in the dock - rather than appearing by audiovisual link as he has done regularly in the past - and behind him in the public gallery sat seven relatives and supporters.

It was the first time the defendant's Auckland-based family had been at court for a hearing, counsel Jonathan Eaton QC said.

Due to statutory suppression rules, none of the arguments from yesterday's bail application can be published.

A pre-trial hearing earlier in the day was also suppressed in totality by Justice Nation.

As well as the murder charge, Skantha has denied a charge of indecent assault and four of threatening to kill.

The most recent development in the case came last month when the judge rejected an application to have the trial held outside Dunedin.

''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,'' a document released by the court said.

The trial was originally scheduled to begin this month but is now expected to go ahead towards the end of the year.

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

As he was led to the cells yesterday, he thanked his supporters for coming.

rob.kidd@odt.co.nz

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