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A Dunedin doctor accused of stabbing a teenage girl to death allegedly left her home holding her phone and driver’s licence, and a knife – all covered in blood.
But the teenage witness who gave police three statements in the days following 16-year-old Amber-Rose Rush’s death told them he was “a compulsive liar”.
Venod Skantha (32) has pleaded not guilty to the murder, along with four counts of threatening to kill as his trial before the High Court at Dunedin enters its fifth day.
The victim was found dead in the bed of her Corstorphine home on the morning of February 3 last year, the result of a severe stab wound that hit her carotid artery, a pathologist confirmed.
The court heard last week Amber-Rose and the defendant had a heated online exchange just minutes before she was killed.
The girl claimed Skantha had sexually assaulted her and others, and she said she planned to go to police and his Dunedin Hospital bosses with the allegations.
The teenage boy, who allegedly drove the defendant to Amber-Rose's Clermiston Ave house, is in the witness box today, giving evidence from behind a screen.
He has permanent name suppression.
In a video statement, given to police two days after the incident, he told Detective Lachlan Cameron he became aware of a dispute between Amber-Rose after she posted a screenshot on Instagram.
After alerting Skantha to it, the doctor allegedly told him he was coming round.
“Drive to Amber's house,” the defendant said.
“I've got a master plan.”
The witness said he was unsure what Skantha was talking about but parked around the corner from the Rush house as instructed.
While waiting, he called a friend.
“I think I might be an accomplice to murder,” he said over the phone.
The witness, however, said Skantha had not indicated he was going to kill Amber-Rose, nor had he seen a knife.
“I didn't think my best friend was going to murder my other friend in cold blood,” the teen said.
“I say stupid things.”
When Det Cameron identified an inconsistency in the boy’s story, he responded: “I'm a compulsive liar, pretty much.”
The defendant allegedly returned shortly after and told the driver to open the door for him and put his seatbelt on.
“I'm thinking in my head something's up,” the teenager said.
“I looked down and I could see him holding Amber's phone . . . I could see Amber's face on the [driver's] licence, it was covered in blood. I saw the knife, clear as day.”
After discarding the phone at Blackhead Quarry, the teenager said they went back to Skantha's Fairfield home where he was ordered to clean up.
Seeing the defendant put his clothes in a bag, the boy said he asked him what had happened.
“I killed her,” Skantha allegedly said.
“He was just like, 'she's gone',” said the witness.
The teen said Skantha demonstrated how he cut Amber-Rose's throat and said the knife sliced through her ear.
“I hope she's dead,” he later allegedly said.
The witness told Det Cameron that he deliberately did a poor job of destroying the evidence and pointed out a pair of the doctor's grey suede shoes that would have Amber-Rose's blood on them.
The shoes were later found by police in Skantha's ex-partner's Balclutha garage, the Crown said.
On February 4, the defendant, his ex-girlfriend Brigid Clinton and the teen all met the victim's mother Lisa-Ann, who was seeking answers as to who killed her daughter.
“I was sitting in the room thinking I'm in there with her daughter's murderer. What the f*** am I doing,” he said.
Before the boy was dropped off at his home, it is alleged Skantha threatened to kill him, the rest of his family and his cat.
“He says dumb stuff but he meant it,” the witness said.
He told police he had never thought the defendant capable of such a severe attack.
“He's a real interesting character. I've grown to like [him]; now I've seen the dark side of him,” the witness said.
The teenager said he spent the days after the incident with Skantha in self-preservation mode.
He was concerned, he said, that if he took his friend to task over what had happened, he might be harmed.
“I don't like to upset Vinny because he can get quite aggressive,” he said.
When Det Cameron left the room midway through the interview, the boy spoke to the camera.
“Whoever sees this recording . . . I wish I could've done something that night that would've changed it and made a difference. I'm deeply sorry for what's happened here,” he said.
The trial continues.