Lawyer Greg King, whose body was found in Wellington on Saturday, leaves the High Court at Christchurch with Judith Ablett-Kerr during the 2009 trial of Clayton Weatherston. Photo by Craig Baxter.
The "personal side" of high-profile defence lawyer Greg King
was humane, sensitive, and generous, murder victim Sophie
Elliott's mother, Lesley, said yesterday.
Mr King's body was found in Dungarvan Rd, a cul-de-sac in the
Wellington suburb of Newlands, on Saturday.
The 43-year-old, who studied law at the University of Otago,
represented defendants in some of the country's most
One of them was Clayton Weatherston, who in 2009 was
convicted of Sophie Elliott's murder in Dunedin in January
Mrs Elliott said she was "absolutely shattered" by Mr King's
death. While the family might not have appreciated Mr King's
"tactics" during Weatherston's trial, the talented lawyer
earned their admiration and respect.
His personal side was sympathetic, generous, passionate, and
humane, she said.
She had attended justice forums at which Mr King was a lone
voice on some issues.
He was prepared to be at odds with others, but the "great
thing about him" was an ability to listen and engage.
Sophie's father, Gil Elliott, said Mr King was extremely
intelligent, courteous and friendly.
"He admired Sophie; he told me that."
Dunedin Crown solicitor Robin Bates said he was saddened by
Mr King's death.
They had appeared on opposing sides in cases, in which Mr
King was a "fine advocate" who fought hard for his clients.
"Greg was one of those people who was straight up, and
direct, and you knew where you stood with him ... his word
was his bond in that regard."
Otago University Faculty of Law dean Prof Mark Henaghan spoke
highly of his former student, whose career he followed with
interest and pride.
Mr King had been subject to massive public vitriol for doing
the crucial work of a defence lawyer, a role whose importance
in the legal system was under-estimated by the public, Prof
In this role, in which the lawyer is pitted against the vast
resources of the state, Mr King was the "best of the best".
Mr King, who started law school in Dunedin in 1989, was a
conscientious and questioning student who went on to an
extraordinary career in which he was counsel in about 50
homicide cases, Prof Henaghan said.
He was unusual in taking some at his own expense, and
remaining sensitive to victims while being an outstanding
advocate for the accused.
A "positive and amazing person to deal with", Mr King was
enthusiastic, pushed himself hard, and always responded to
emails despite a huge workload.
His mentor, Dunedin lawyer Judith Ablett-Kerr QC, was
distraught when contacted on Saturday.
"I'm absolutely devastated," she said. "He was like a son to
Law Society president Jonathan Temm said lawyers faced
enormous pressure and that Mr King had been affected by
public condemnation of the not guilty verdicts against
Feilding farmer Ewen Macdonald, who was acquitted of killing
his brother-in-law, Scott Guy, in July.
Mr Temm said the case took its toll in the form of public
condemnation of Mr King.
"When you pick up a newspaper or turn on a radio and people
are slagging off the outcome, that indirectly reflects on
him, too," Mr Temm said.
Mr King was a "brilliant lawyer" who accepted unpopular
cases, which took courage.
Mr King's website said he was admitted to the Bar in Dunedin
in May 1993.
He set up his own practice, in Wellington, in 1996.
He is survived by his wife, Catherine Milnes-King, and
daughters Pippa (5) and Millie (3).
• Scott Watson (2003): Took an unsuccessful case to the Privy
Council seeking leave to appeal against double convictions
• John Barlow (2008): Convicted of the murders of Wellington
businessmen Gene Thomas and his son Eugene in 1995 after
three trials. King's appeal to the Privy Council in 2008 was
• Clayton Weatherston (2009): Second counsel to Judith
Ablett-Kerr QC. Weatherston was found guilty of murdering
• Virender Singh (2009): Successfully represented South
Auckland liquor shop owner Virender Singh, cleared of
assaulting with a hockey stick two men he believed were
robbing his store.
• Ewen Macdonald (2012): Macdonald was cleared of the murder
of brother-in-law Scott Guy.
- Additional reporting APNZ