Greg King (lawyer)

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Greg King
Born(1969-09-17)17 September 1969
Died3 November 2012(2012-11-03) (aged 43)
Alma materUniversity of Otago
OccupationCriminal defence lawyer
Spouse(s)Catherine Milnes

Gregory James King (17 September 1969 – 2 November 2012)[1] was a New Zealand criminal defence lawyer and broadcaster.

Early life and education[edit]

Of Ngāti Tūwharetoa descent, King was born in Whanganui and grew up in Turangi,[2] where his father was a prison officer. He was head prefect at Tongariro High School in 1987.[3] The following year, he represented New Zealand as one of 32 pavilion hosts in the World Expo in Brisbane, Australia.[1] King studied law at the University of Otago, graduating (LLB) in 1992. He was admitted to the bar on 14 May 1993 at Dunedin High Court.[1]

Legal career[edit]

In 1996, King became the "youngest New Zealand lawyer to appear as lead in a murder trial and over the rest of his career he represented over 50 clients who were charged with murder."[1] In 2003, in conjunction with trial lawyer Mike Antunovic, King unsuccessfully took the Scott Watson case to the Privy Council in London seeking leave to appeal his convictions for double murder.[4] He successfully appealed to the Privy Council in 2005 in representing the double murderer Bruce Howse; and his application to the Privy Council in 2008 and 2009 for leave to reopen the case of John Barlow, convicted of the murder of Gene and Eugene Thomas, was similarly successful.[5] In 2009 King assisted Judith Ablett-Kerr in the defence of Clayton Weatherston for the murder of Sophie Elliott.[6] In 2012, King successfully defended Ewen MacDonald on the charge of murdering his brother-in-law Scott Guy, a long arduous case which generated huge public interest, including televised court reports.[7] It was King's much-reported passionate advocacy in this case that brought him to national attention across New Zealand and "made him a household name".[1][8]

The New Zealand Law Society's summary of King's involvement in precedent-making cases includes the following: "He successfully argued in 2009 that Auckland liquor shop owner Virender Singh had exercised his rights to defend himself and his shop with a hockey stick against five teenagers. He was also counsel in the first and second ever successful criminal appeals to the Supreme Court. The first of these, R v Timoti [2006] 1 NZLR 323, 21 CRNZ 804, resulted in the overturning of a murder conviction from 1999, with the appeal focusing on the partial defence of provocation. Another Supreme Court success came in R v Wi [2010] 2 NZLR 11, 24 CRNZ 731, which reversed several lower court decisions and held that adducing evidence of a lack of previous convictions was still admissible under the Evidence Act 2006."[1]

Broadcasting career[edit]

King was the creator and host of The Court Report, a weekly television programme dealing with contemporary legal issues. The programme aired on TVNZ 7 before the station closed down in 2012.[2] The show's format was a panel discussion or interview with legal experts and commentators with the aim of going "behind the headlines of the legal news stories of the day, to inform and educate, as well as entertain the profession and the public at large". In all, King hosted 68 episodes before retiring at the end of 2011. He continued on as an executive producer.[9]


On the morning of 3 November 2012, King was found dead beside his car in Newlands, Wellington. His death was referred to the coroner as a suspected suicide.[10][11] The coroner's findings were released in October 2013, when King's death by suicide was confirmed. Details of a suicide note were also released, in which King described himself as suffering from depression and "totally burnt out".[12]

Law Society president Jonathan Temm said: "Throughout his career he represented clients who were often unpopular and he did that with real ability and determination." Labour leader David Shearer said: "Greg had one of this country's finest legal brains. There wouldn't be many New Zealanders who hadn't heard of him.[13]

King's funeral was attended by 800 mourners "from all walks of life."[14]

Personal life[edit]

King was married to fellow lawyer Catherine Milnes-King and was the father of two.[12][14]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Adlam, Geoff. "Gregory James King, 1969 – 2012". New Zealand Law Society. Retrieved 8 November 2018.
  2. ^ a b Tahana, Yvonne (5 November 2012). "Lawyer received bad health news". NZ Herald.
  3. ^ Ensor, Blair; Cooke, Michelle (3 November 2012). "High-profile lawyer Greg King found dead". Fairfax NZ News. Retrieved 3 November 2012.
  4. ^ "Privy Council rejects Watson case". Television New Zealand. 6 November 2003. Retrieved 2 October 2011.
  5. ^ "Barlow loses final murder appeal". The New Zealand Herald. NZPA. 9 July 2009. Retrieved 2 October 2011.
  6. ^ "Weatherston's lawyer victim of hate campaign". The New Zealand Herald. NZPA. 9 August 2009. Retrieved 4 November 2012.
  7. ^ Hill, Marika (4 November 2012). "The friend of the friendless". Stuff. Retrieved 8 November 2018.
  8. ^ White, Mike (7 January 2018). "Remembering defence lawyer Greg King". Noted. Retrieved 8 November 2018.
  9. ^ Greg King
  10. ^ "High-profile lawyer Greg King found dead". The New Zealand Herald. 3 November 2012. Retrieved 3 November 2012.
  11. ^ Shadwell, Talia (5 November 2012). "Tributes for Greg King". Manawatu Standard. Retrieved 4 November 2012.
  12. ^ a b "Lawyer's death found to be suicide". Radio New Zealand. 17 October 2013. Retrieved 8 November 2018.
  13. ^ Hill, Marika; Ensor, Blair (4 November 2012). "Greg King: Friend of the friendless". Stuff. Retrieved 8 November 2018.
  14. ^ a b "'Giant of criminal law' farewelled". NZ Herald. 10 November 2012. Retrieved 8 November 2018.