17 Oct 2013

Lawyer's death found to be suicide

7:40 pm on 17 October 2013

A Coroner says the death of prominent Wellington defence lawyer Greg King was due to his being in a "state of deep depression" and committing suicide.

The 43-year-old was found dead in Wellington on 3 November last year.

Coroner Garry Evans found that Greg King was under sheer and unrelenting pressure and says the lawyer's suicide note makes for poignant reading.

Mr King left a note saying that he was exhausted, unwell, depressed and haunted by the dead from his numerous homicide cases.

Mr King described himself as incredibly disillusioned and torn between doing his job and his conscience. He said that after 20 years as a defence lawyer he was "now completely over it. Totally burnt out" and his experiences with criminals had dulled his senses.

Mr King wrote that the trial he was working on a week before his death "involved yet another terrible, unnecessary death and a lifestyle and community most New Zealanders would have no idea existed". He said victims of serious crime had affected him profoundly.

Among those Greg King defended were Clayton Weatherston, who was convicted of murder, and more recently, Ewen MacDonald, who was found not guilty of killing Scott Guy.

The Coroner's findings include the response of Mr King's wife, Catherine Milnes-King, to his suicide.

She says her husband was publicly slated after the trial of Ewen Macdonald, whom he defended and who was acquitted of murdering Feilding farmer Scott Guy.

Ms Milnes-King says in the evening following the delivery of his closing address in the Macdonald case, her husband had a massive breakdown.

Where to get help

Services are available to offer support, information and help for those in distress or concerned about the wellbeing of others:

Lifeline - 0800 543 354 or (09) 5222 999 within Auckland.

Samaritans - 0800 726 666 (for the Lower North Island, Christchurch and the West Coast) or 0800 211 211 for all other regions.