Notorious litigant, fraudster and convicted sex offender Ashley Palmer has died.

The longtime criminal is said to have suffered heart failure. Born Graham Ashley Robert Palmer, he died aged 71.

Palmer accrued dozens of convictions in Australia, Britain and New Zealand.

He burst into the New Zealand scene with a $2.6 million GST fraud, shortly after the new tax had been introduced.

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One person who had served time with Palmer said: "He realised it was all based on honesty when it started."

The former inmate said Palmer was personable and worked to endear himself to other prisoners even though his criminal record included convictions for sex-related crimes against children.

He said Palmer had always denied the incidents which led to his sex-related convictions.

He had seen one case through to the Court of Appeal, where convictions were overturned and no new trial took place after the complainant said she did not want to go through the court process again.

Palmer was also later convicted on indecent assault and indecent exposure charges.

Aside from long periods in prison, Palmer also spent long periods in the courts filing cases against police, lawyers, medical staff, rental car companies and many others who he encountered in a life largely lived in grey areas with occasional, deliberate, detours into darkness.

His use of the court was so persistent, with such little apparent merit, he was banned from filing fresh cases for a period.

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It was these bush lawyer skills which allowed Palmer to attain some standing and become well-known among the criminal fraternity.

In one of Palmer's later cases, he sued an automated toilet manufacturer after a conviction for exposing himself to two young girls at a public toilet.

Palmer wanted $200,000, blaming the toilet company for designing doors which opened after a period of no movement, exposing himself to the girls. He claimed a bladder problem kept him, motionless, in the toilet.

The case failed, as did many of those brought to the courts.