Skantha told police he is 'definitely not a creep'

Venod Skantha. Photo: Christine O'Connor
Venod Skantha. Photo: Christine O'Connor
A Dunedin doctor accused of the murder of a teenage girl told police he never visited her house on the night of her death.

Venod Skantha (32) is accused of fatally stabbing 16-year-old Amber-Rose Rush in the bedroom of her Corstorphine home in Dunedin on February 2 last year. He denies the charge.

The jury today have been played an interview Skantha had with police.

In the interview Skantha said the police's theory - that he did it to stop 16-year-old Amber-Rose making allegations that may destroy his medical career - was far-fetched.

"Why would I risk my career and everything for that. It doesn't make sense. It's not worth it,"  the defendant said.

"It's the most ridiculous thing. Why would I do that? Don't you think that's a very extreme thing for someone to do?"

Skantha is on trial before the High Court at Dunedin over Amber-Rose's violent death in her Corstorphine home on the night of February 2.

He was arrested two days later after police pulled his ex-girlfriend over in central Dunedin.

"Am I under arrest?" Skantha asked Detective Constable Wayne O'Connell.

He was told he was not and offered to make a statement on video.

The 48-minute interview was the first time the 10 men and two women of the jury had heard from the defendant during the three weeks of the trial's duration.

Skantha called Amber-Rose "just sort of a friend"

"I was never really close to Amber at all," he said. "She's much younger than me."

Skantha acknowledged the victim had recently aired accusations about an indecent assault he supposedly committed a month earlier.

He told Det Const O'Connell that he was "definitely not a creep".

"She accused me of inappropriately touching her and I genuinely have no recollection of that. I think I was very drunk at the time," the defendant said.

"If you want to say rubbish about me, I just don't really care," he said of the allegations.

When asked of his movements on the night of Amber-Rose's death, Skantha said he picked up his teenage friend who then drove back to his Fairfield home, then on to Balclutha.

Later in the interview, the defendant added that the driver had taken him along a beach road and they had pulled up at a secluded car park.

Det Const O'Connell asked if it could have been Blackhead Quarry.

"Ok, that makes sense," Skantha said. "He just wanted to show me a nice spot."

Amber-Rose's phone was later found discarded in the swampy area.

The officer suggested Skantha was not being honest.

"I have reason to believe you're responsible for Amber's death," he said.

"Don't say that to me. It's not in my nature. I promise you. I don't know where you're getting this from," the defendant responded.

Skantha said he would not know how to get into the victim's home even if he wanted to.

When it was suggested his teenage friend had shown him where the key was – under an ornamental Buddha statue - he put the focus on the boy.

"If he knows that much, maybe he did it," Skantha said.

As Det Const O'Connell's interview reached its climax, the defendant asked whether he could leave.

"Not at the moment," the officer said before reading him his rights and placing him under arrest.

Skantha expressed his shock and asked to his ex-partner Brigid Clinton, who was being interviewed at the same time.

When Det Const O'Connell left the room, the defendant followed and continued his requests.

Crown evidence will conclude today, then the defence will consider whether they will call witnesses.

A verdict is expected next week. 

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