'Tragic numbness' following Greg King's death


The Palmerston North lawyer who went head to head with Greg King in the Ewen Macdonald murder trial said he had a feeling of ‘‘tragic numbness’’ when he heard of his colleague’s sudden death.

Ben Vanderkolk was the lead Crown prosecutor in the trial earlier this year and said Mr King was ‘‘a lawyer in his prime’’. 

Macdonald was found not guilty of murdering his brother-in-law, Feilding farmer Scott Guy.

Mr King’s death was being treated as a suspected suicide and has been referred to the coroner.

He was found lying face down on a grass verge at the bottom of Dungarvan Rd in the northern Wellington suburb of Newlands about 10.30am on Saturday. 

Pathologist John Rutherford was at the scene. He was the same pathologist who examined Scott Guy’s body. 

Mr Vanderkolk said he had faced Mr King in three murder trials over a decade and was impressed with his opposition’s planning.

‘‘He always knew his case inside out before it went to trial. 

‘‘He was a brilliant strategist with an agile mind,’’ Mr Vanderkolk said.

‘‘He would have a plan and stick to it, because he was confident it was the right one.’’

Mr King was also easy to deal with outside the courtroom before a trial, which Mr Vanderkolk said made the process much easier.

‘‘You could settle things a long way out from a trial with him and know what to expect.’’

Detective Inspector Paul Basham appealed for sightings of Mr King’s silver Mercedes-Benz in the Newlands area from midday Friday.

Scott Guy’s father, Bryan Guy, said the death was ‘‘terrible, tragic and sad’’ for Mr King’s children and family.

He praised Mr King’s professionalism.

‘‘He had a job to do... There’s certainly no issues or animosity.’’

New Zealand Law Society president Jonathan Temm said the legal profession was ‘‘tremendously saddened’’ by the news.

He said Mr King had a national reputation and was a very well known member of the legal profession.

‘‘Throughout his career he represented clients who were often unpopular and he did that with real ability and determination.’’

Attorney-General Christopher Finlayson said Mr King was a nice guy and a fine advocate.

‘‘Although young in years, Greg King had already achieved a huge amount in his career.’’

Manawatu Standard court reporter Jimmy Ellingham sat through every day of the Macdonald trial and recalled the defence lawyer in action.

‘‘While some called his closing address at the Guy trial ‘manic’, and that’s how it looked on TV, in the courtroom it was the most compelling closing address you could see.

King’s points were clear and concise and he built a simple and effective defence of Ewen Macdonald.

‘‘King said this made his clients listen to what was happening and stay interested.’’

Two weeks later the lawyer returned to Palmerston North to represent a man defending manslaughter charges in a trial Ellingham reported on.

‘‘King was still visibly on a high. He asked me to save the newspaper poster from our story on that case – saying he likes to collect all the billboards from his cases.

‘‘He would also make sure his clients had suits and ties and would instruct them on how to behave.’’

Manawatu Standard