High-profile lawyer Greg King found dead

09:24, Nov 03 2012
Greg King

High-profile lawyer Greg King has been found dead beside his car in Wellington.

King, 42, who recently defended Ewen Macdonald, accused of murdering his brother-in-law Scott Guy in 2010, was discovered at the bottom of Dungarvan Rd in Newlands, about 10.30am this morning.

Detective Inspector Paul Basham said police did not believe King's death was suspicious and the matter had been referred to the coroner.

Mr Basham said formal identification of Mr King's body would be carried out tomorrow as part of the post mortem process. Police had notified the family and scene examinations were continuing, Mr Basham said.

"Our deepest sympathies are with Greg's family and friends at this incredibly tragic and difficult time.

"Greg was well known and respected among police staff, and I know his death will be keenly felt by many people, including those in the wider legal community, which has also suffered a huge loss."


King family spokesperson, Frances Jones, has asked that the family's privacy be respected as they come to terms with this tragic news.

"This is a terrible tragedy for Greg's family and children, who are devastated by his loss."

The Lower Hutt lawyer was involved in over 40 murder cases, including Scott Watson, John Barlow and Clayton Weatherston.


Born in Whanganui and raised in Turangi, Greg King was always destined to play some role in the New Zealand justice system.

First raised in a state house while his father worked as a shearer and meat packer, the King's family moved to Turangi in 1975 where his dad took up a position as a guard at Turangi's Hautu Prison where Arthur Allan Thomas was a resident.

It also meant the family was closer to their iwi, Ngati Tuwharetoa.

King went to school first in Whanganui and the Turangi, where he was head boy at Tongariro High School in 1987.

While he excelled at school, he has said he loved it "but probably for the wrong reasons.

"My friends were everything to me, and school was for socialising."

King always had an interest in sports, including boxing, rugby, badminton and cricket.

After leaving high school, he spent six months in Brisbane for the World Expo, where he met world leaders in politics, sports and entertainment. In his spare time he learnt to fly.

Upon his return he moved to Dunedin, where he completed a law degree from Otago University.


King has a long history of working on high profile cases, including representing convicted murderer Clayton Weatherston and Ewen Macdonald, who was found not guilty in July.

His interest and passion for justice stemmed from his upbringing in a family where crime was a dinner table conversation.

"When I was 12 I wanted to be a criminal defence lawyer," he told the Dominion Post in 2009.

"My father was a prison officer so crime was a conversation topic. Arthur Allan Thomas was in my father's prison when he was pardoned. I found it totally inspiring."

After being admitted to the bar in 1993, King took on an apprenticeship with criminal defence barrister Judith Ablett-Kerr.

With Ablett-Kerr he tackled some of the most complex and high profile cases of the 90s, including representing Vicky Calder, who was accused of murdering her former partner, plant scientist Professor David Lloyd.

King spent three years working with Ablett-Kerr in the early years of his career before starting his own practice in Wellington, but has worked with her on occasion since, including representing Peter Ellis in the Christchurch crèche case and the Weatherston trial in 2009.

"I have various phrases. I tell people 'Look, you're not to worry about your case. I'm a professional worrier and it's my job to worry' about their case. Just to give them confidence," he said earlier this year.

Martin Luther King's quote "injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere," sums up his approach, he said.

King has also represented convicted killers Scott Watson and John Barlow, who have maintained their innocence.

King's wife, Catherine Milnes-King, joined her husband's Lower Hutt practice in 2000.


Greg King lived in the western hills over looking Lower Hutt with his wife and two daughters, Pippa, 5, and Millie, 3.

Diagnosed with diabetes last year, he has talked about struggling to get it under control.

He was booked up with jury trials until the end of the year but had said he wanted to spend more time with his family now his presenting role on defunct TVNZ7's Court Report had wound up.

Life wasn't all about justice for King. He would spend time gardening, chasing after his chickens, collecting watches and loved boxing.

He was heavily involved in the Wainuiomata Lions Rugby League Club, which he was the main sponsor of.

He was an avid art collector and had a keen interest in horse racing. King and Milnes-King once owned racing horses. King also had a fond interest of cars, particularly jaguars.