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Gang members, politicans attend Greg King's funeral

Published: 5:28AM Friday November 09, 2012 Source: ONE News

Gang members, politicians and other well-known faces were among the more than 1000 people gathered to farewell defence lawyer Greg King at his funeral in Wellington today.

King, who most recently defended Ewen Macdonald in the Scott Guy murder trial, was discovered dead near his car at the bottom of Dungarvan Rd in Newlands, about 10.30am on Saturday.

The funeral began at 11am at the Wellington Cathedral of St Paul and a private cremation was to be held after the service.

Jeff King, Greg's father, told the congregation that he, Greg's mother Jenny and Greg's brother Jason "are the most fortunate people in the room today".

"We knew Greg for 43 years. I wouldn't trade one second of those 43 years for this pain that I've got."

Jeff King said his son's friends were very important to him.

Jeff King said one of Greg King's "best choices was his choice of wife".

"But we'd given up hope of them producing the magic grandchildren we knew they'd be, and then finally they did and they're worth every b***** cracker and minute of wait. Greg hasn't left us I see him in those two."

Jeff King said Greg had wanted to be a helicopter pilot before becoming a lawyer.

Jenny King said he was a "wonderful son" and that she was "privileged" to be his mother.

Tears for King

Judith Ablett-Kerr QC said her time working with King was never boring.

She said their relationship endured nearly 20 years, but tearfully said on Friday of last week "the light that I had witnessed burn so brightly was extinguished so suddenly and for me so unexpectedly".

Ablett-Kerr said family was very important to Greg, that he talked repeatedly of his parents and he told her how proud he was of them.

"Gregory was a good son, and a much loved one. He also talked insistently about Jason."

She said King's "talent seemed to know no boundaries and his energy was limitless", which was important as his working days were regularly 18 hours.

Ablett-Kerr said she introduced King to his wife when Catherine came to work as a summer clerk.

"I hadn't counted on what was going to happen though, because almost instantly Greg was carried away, 'that's the woman I'm going to marry', he declared, and indeed that proved to be the case."

She said that Catherine and Greg were a "marvellous team".

"He needed someone who would love him enough to support him in his career, to share his ambitions and to be strong enough to cope with inevitable extended absences," she said.

Ablett-Kerr said providing a first-rate defence for his clients meant he missed birthdays and even missed births.

"They were the price he paid for doing his jobs well, and Catherine paid that price alongside him," she said.

However, Ablett-Kerr said when away on a case King would make time to buy presents for his wife and his daughters.

Great sense of humour

Health Minister Tony Ryall told those gathered for the service that "Greg's death is a great loss for New Zealand".

"Greg was much more than just a brilliant lawyer, more than a thoughtful and driven man."

He said King was a sports fan and had "a great sense of timing and humour".

"For example my last contact with Greg was only a few weeks ago after my wife had baked a calorie-laden chocolate and caramel cake courtesy of a recipe from Catherine [King's wife], a particular favourite of Greg's. I texted him to tell him that we had just overeaten some of his favourite cake and thought we would have to run up and down the hill several times as a result.

"Quick as a flash he text back 'yes it's a great recipe we gave it to Dotcom when he was 71kgs'."

Ryall, who says he met King when he was Minister of Justice in the late 1990s, told mourners King had a "genuine passion for the underdog".

'Natural kindness'

Crown Prosecutor Simon Moore told the congregation that King was "the most recognisable defence lawyer in the country".

"He reviled unfairness or any kind of injustice and in my view this is the quality that above all others singled King out for greatness.

"His generosity of spirit, his empathy, his natural kindness to everyone no matter who they were set him apart."

Moore said it was not only the people in trouble with the law who King helped.

"We've seen tributes flow in from families of murder victims whose killers Greg defended. How does that happen?

"It happens because Greg King was above all else a kind and sensitive man with an extraordinary capacity for empathy."

He said King sat down with the victims' families of the people he defended and explained to them what was happening and why it was happening.

"And that's what made Greg different, that's why we loved and admired him as much as we did," the prosecutor said.

Criminal Lawyer Robert Lithgow said King took a lot of abuse following the Sophie Elliot murder trial.

"Within months [after the trial] Greg King on his television programme is sitting talking in a straight-forward way about the reform of the law and trial practise with Sophie's father now I can't imagine any other defence lawyer in the world who could ever do that thing."

Lithgow said at a law dinner held in the honour of another deceased lawyer the speaker said: "Greg you have fallen like a tree in the forest there's no going back it's done. You seemed so big and you seemed so strong but something's happened and you're not that anymore."

He promised King's wife Catherine that he would "not pretend that everything is alright when it is not".

'Dearly loved'

King leaves behind his wife Catherine Milnes and two daughters, Pippa and Millie.

Detective Inspector Paul Basham said on Saturday that police were satisfied there were no suspicious circumstances surrounding the death.

The matter has been referred to Coroner Wallace Bain, who has imposed restrictions surrounding the reporting of the case.

King, was the youngest lawyer in New Zealand approved to conduct the defence in murder trials, and he had been counsel in more than 40 murder cases. King had hosted the TVNZ 7 programme The Court Report.

King defended some of New Zealand's most well-known criminals, including Scott Watson, the man found guilty of murdering Ben Smart and Olivia Hope in 1998, and Clayton Weatherston, the man found guilty of stabbing Sophie Elliott in her Dunedin home in 2008.