Threats, lies and drugs - witness

Venod Skantha
Venod Skantha
A Dunedin doctor accused of murder allegedly groped a sleeping woman then threatened to kill her if she told anyone.

Venod Skantha (32) is on trial before the High Court in Dunedin accused of the murder of 16-year-old Amber-Rose Rush, who was found stabbed to death in bed at her Corstorphine home on February 3 last year.

The Crown says the defendant killed the girl to stop her making potentially catastrophic allegations to police and the man's Dunedin Hospital superiors.

She had threatened to say Skantha had groped her and ''touched up'' others, as well as supplying minors with alcohol.

A woman, whose name is suppressed, told the court how she met the defendant in 2017 and almost immediately felt uncomfortable.

''He wanted to go out for dinner to fancy restaurants with me and I said I didn't want to do that,'' she said.

Once she rebuffed his advances, the witness said, Skantha turned.

The woman said he aimed jibes at her such as ''slut'' and ''ho'', before she got a lift home with a friend.

On another occasion, she recalled being at Skantha's home where drug use was taking place.

''There was a $50 note being rolled and they were snorting stuff,'' she said.

After returning from town, the woman said she went to sleep in Skantha's bed after he assured her he would sleep on the couch.

''I end up just passing out from all that alcohol,'' she told the jury.

''I was in bed and fully clothed.''

The witness said she woke up to find a woman on one side of her stroking her shoulder and Skantha pawing at her breast and genitals.

The defendant, she said, asked her if she wanted a threesome.

She kicked out at him and went to sleep on the couch.

The next day, when she was getting a drink from the kitchen, Skantha allegedly approached.

''He said if I told anyone he would kill me,'' she said.

''I was just scared.''

Earlier, the court heard that a month before being stabbed to death, Amber-Rose had told a friend Skantha had molested her, too.

Lyndze Parrett (22) recalled a weekend of heavy drinking at the defendant's Fairfield house in December before seeing the teenage victim again in early January 2018.

''She said that she thought she may have been drugged as she woke up with Vinny's hand down her pants and her top and bra was removed,'' Ms Parrett said.

She asked if Amber-Rose was still talking to Skantha.

''F... no,'' she replied.

Ms Parrett told the jury she saw Skantha within a week and queried what had happened.

''I was at his house and I asked him and he said he couldn't remember ... anything about it,'' she said.

Before the two witnesses gave evidence, Justice Gerald Nation stressed to the jury the hearsay evidence was being admitted because it had direct relevance to what the Crown submits is the defendant's motive.

''You must be very careful not to allow it to prejudice you against Dr Skantha,'' he said.

The court also heard evidence yesterday that months before the alleged murder, the doctor turned up to a hospital meeting and treated a patient after drinking two beers.

The only reason Skantha was not dismissed, Southern District Health Board chief medical officer Dr Nigel Millar said, was because his mother had recently died.

But his mother had not died.

Following a period of sick leave in July 2017, Skantha turned up for a discussion with his supervisor a day early.

The defendant, with two friends in tow, went to the orthopaedic ward where he usually worked.

He flushed a woman's IV line, reattached it too tightly and annotated it with the previous day's date.

The patient was concerned about Skantha's erratic demeanour, the court heard.

Dr Millar made an interim decision to terminate the junior doctor's employment because of the serious misconduct but he amended that to putting him on a final warning after a plea from the defendant's lawyer.

The trial continues.

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