Top Kiwi defence lawyer, Greg King, took his own life – was depressed and haunted by the dead from homicide cases he had known…
Top lawyer Greg King took his life, depressed, burnt-out, and haunted by the dead from the cases he had known. Coroner Garry Evans has released his findings into the death of King, 43, whose body was found on November 3, last year, in Dungarvan Rd, Newlands, Wellington, not far from his Mercedes car. In the car was a typewritten note that began: “To everyone: How can I explain the unexplainable?” It said that after nearly 20 years as a defence lawyer he was burnt out, disillusioned and depressed. “He says he is haunted by the dead from his numerous homicide cases and hates himself for what he has done,” Evans said. “He says he has been genuinely torn between doing his job and his conscience, which keeps asking him ‘Is this really what you want to be doing?'” In his finding, Evans mostly paraphrases the note in which King spoke of the experiences with criminals that had dulled his human senses and the victims of serious crime who affected him profoundly. It says that, of all the things he would have done differently had he had his life over, he would never have changed his marriage [to Catherine Milnes-King] and his two daughters. He spoke of his love for them and his parents and brother. Milnes-King has issued a statement saying the family saw his death as a by-product of his genius. She asked for privacy. Milnes-King had told the coroner her husband had a massive breakdown in June, 2012, the night after delivering his closing address for Ewen Macdonald in the Scott Guy murder trial.
The trial had taken a substantial toll on him and his breakdown was the most intense she had seen, going on for hours whereas he would usually be able to pick himself up. And after Macdonald’s trial ended, King was publicly slated everywhere, Milnes-King said. His health and work stress through 2012 really impacted on him, she said. The week before he died he worked on a manslaughter trial in the High Court at Wellington, describing it in his final letter as “another terrible unnecessary death and a lifestyle and community most New Zealanders would have no idea existed”. He saw the appalling gaps in society getting worse, not better. His cases had drawn disheartening and depressing abuse from some people, he hated the attention he received and longed to be anonymous, his letter said. In the week before King’s death,
The Dominion Post‘s investigative reporter Phil Kitchin had approached King about an allegation from a disgruntled former client of irregularities in legal aid billing. The Ministry of Justice, which administers legal aid, had found King’s legal aid bill for the client’s case had been “well within” the range of what was reasonable and to be expected but in King’s absence the investigation could not be taken further. A senior police officer who investigated King’s death thought that, in King’s frame of mind at the time, the thought of a media circus over legal aid could have felt overwhelming, but Milnes-King thought her husband was unlikely to have been unduly worried by the allegations made against him.
Acknowledgements: © Fairfax NZ News