Dunedin teen's murderer dies in jail

Venod  Skantha lost an appeal yesterday. Photo: Christine O'Conner
Venod Skantha lost an appeal yesterday. Photo: Christine O'Conner
The man who murdered Dunedin teenager Amber-Rose Rush has died at a South Otago prison.

Venod Skantha's appeal against conviction for the 2018 murder of the 16-year-old and threatening to kill four other people was dismissed by the Court of Appeal yesterday.

A Dunedin jury in 2019 unanimously found Skantha guilty of stabbing Amber-Rose to death. He was later sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum non-parole period of 19 years.

In a statement supplied to the ODT last night relating to a death at the jail, prison director Lyndal Miles said Corrections staff unsuccessfully tried to save a man who died at the Otago Corrections Facility, near Milton, yesterday.

There was no indication his death was suspicious, she said.

Emergency services attended the incident about 4pm yesterday. 

Several sources have this morning confirmed that the man was Skantha, a former doctor at Dunedin Hospital.

All deaths in custody were referred to the Coroner.

An investigation by the independent Corrections Inspectorate would also be carried out, Mrs Miles said.


A former Corrections officer told the Otago Daily Times he believes processes had not been followed.

The man, who had been speaking to current Otago Corrections Facility staff, said an interview was supposed to take place with prisoners when they received bad news.

A series of questions would be asked to determine how much of a risk to themselves the inmate was.

But that supposedly did not happen for Skantha on Wednesday, he said.

The Department of Corrections has been approached for comment. 








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