Venod Skantha gets 19 years' jail for murder of Dunedin teen Amber-Rose Rush

The 16-year-old was found dead in her bed in February 2018.
The 16-year-old was found dead in her bed in February 2018. Photo credit: Facebook

The doctor who murdered Amber-Rose Rush has been sentenced to at least 19 years in prison.

Venod Skantha was found guilty in November of murdering the 16-year-old, who was found dead in her bed in February 2018.

He was also found guilty of four charges of threatening to kill.

His sentencing took place on Friday at the Dunedin High Court, where Justice Gerald Nation handed down a sentence of life imprisonment, with a minimum non-parole period of 19 years.

Skantha pleaded not guilty to the murder charge, with his defence claiming Amber-Rose was killed by an intruder who was not him. 

But the jury sided with the Crown, which said the Dunedin doctor sneaked into Amber-Rose's home and stabbed her to death.

During the trial, it was revealed Skantha was on his final warning for serious misconduct at the time of the murder.

Amber-Rose had text messages showing Skantha was supplying alcohol to minors and offering them money to have sex, Crown lawyer Richard Smith said.

The teen was planning on showing those messages to police, jeopardising the doctor's career.

She also had messages accusing him of offering her money for sex with him and indecently assaulting her at a party.

When she said she planned to go to the police, texts showed Skantha asking: "So you're serious?"

"You best believe I am. I'm doing the world a favour. People like you don't deserve to walk freely," Amber-Rose replied.

Less than an hour after sending that message, Skantha used a spare key to get inside the teenager's home before slitting her throat and stabbing her in the neck six times, the Crown said.

She had "no chance" of surviving the injuries, the court heard.

In giving his sentence, Justice Nation said the killing showed "an irrational arrogance" and was "callousness to a high degree".

"What made it callous to a high level was in part the efficient and clinical way in which Amber-Rose was killed. But also the non-fatal stab wounds, together with the way you left her on her bed inevitable in a pool of blood to be discovered in that way by her mother the following morning," he said.

"It is hard to imagine a worse scene for a mother to be confronted with. 

"Tragically for Amber-Rose's family, the memory of what she saw and the loss of her daughter was not, in fact, something she could live with. She ended up taking her own life." 

she could live with. She ended up taking her own life." 

Speaking outside of court, Amber-Rose's father, Shane Rush, said the family would have to deal with the tragedy by being "strong together".

 "We know that the life sentence is not what we would ask for, we would have asked for more, but it is what it is," he said.

"Myself and my children will just go on and be strong together."

Skantha's lawyer Jonathan Eaton said his client maintains his innocence.