Mark Mitchinson plays the enigmatic Queens Counsel, Mike 'Bungles' Bungay.

Michael Anthony 'Bungles' Bungay was one of the most outrageous personalities in New Zealand's legal history.

Bungay was a Queens Counsel and criminal barrister. He was witty in his humour, compassionate but often unpredictable when it came to both his personal and work life.

Sharp of tongue and sharp of mind, Bungay had a devilishly great way with words. 

In fact, the name Dear Murderer came from correspondence between the late QC and Alf Benning.

Bungay had unsuccessfully defended Benning for the murder of his wife, Betty.  This story was the focus of Sunday Theatre's How To Murder Your Wife.

When Benning learned that Bungay had fallen ill, he felt compelled to send him a letter. The famous, and arguably unprofessional exchange is as follows:


Dear Mr Bungay,

I have heard on the radio and read in the newspapers that you are extremely ill. I would just like to wish you a long, lingering, and very painful death.

Yours faithfully

- Alf Benning.


A still very sick Bungay replied:


Dear Murderer,

It is a beautiful spring morning here in Wellington. I have French champagne in the chiller and am defrosting some prime fillet steaks.

My friends and I are heading out to the beach shortly to enjoy a leisurely picnic. What are you doing?

- Mike Bungay

We've collected some of the other witty, outrageous and insightful quotes:

‘Those who kill deserve the most effective counsel because they have the most to lose’.

- Mike Bungay


‘I operate in a style which is comfortable for me and effective for my clients. I do not seek approval from my peers’

- Mike Bungay


‘The killing of an innocent person is bad. But the conviction of an innocent person is no better’

- Mike Bungay


‘Like Ali, you can be flippant and clown around a bit, but once you get to work, you’ve got to be devastating’.

- Mike Bungay


‘To be any use to people in positions of vulnerability, lawyers need to understand as much about people as they do about the law’.

- Mike Bungay


‘The difference between a barrister and a solicitor? Try shark and piranha.'

- Mike Bungay


‘It’s easy for a lawyer to defend a person he likes. The real test is when you are called upon to defend someone you despise’.

- Mike Bungay


‘Alcohol is a dangerous and artificial way of relieving stress. I only hope I’ve found out before it’s too late’.

-Mike Bungay

Dear Murderer airs Thursdays at 8.30pm on TVNZ 1, you can watch the season so far here.