Matt Ratana shooting: Croydon police station gunman found guilty of New Zealand-born sergeant’s murder

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Defence lawyers initially claimed Louis De Zoysa fired the antique revolver while having an "autistic meltdown"

A gunman has been found guilty of murdering a Met Police sergeant after smuggling an antique revolver into a police station and opening fire in a holding cell.

Lawyers for former data analyst Louis De Zoysa initially claimed diminished responsibility, but he was unanimously convicted on Friday (23 June) after a jury decided that he pulled the weapon’s trigger deliberately - rather than while suffering an autistic meltdown.

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Jurors in the three-week trial at Northampton Crown Court were shown video footage of New Zealand-born Met Police Sergeant Matt Ratana being hit in the chest by the first of three shots discharged by De Zoysa, within three seconds.

Sgt Ratana later died of his injuries in hospital despite the efforts of medical staff. A second bullet hit the 54-year-old in the thigh, before De Zoysa was wrestled to the ground by other officers as a third round hit the cell wall at Croydon’s Windmill Road custody centre.

Louis De Zoysa (right) has been found guilty of murdering Metropolitan Police officer Matt Ratana (Photo: NationalWorld/Metropolitan Police)Louis De Zoysa (right) has been found guilty of murdering Metropolitan Police officer Matt Ratana (Photo: NationalWorld/Metropolitan Police)
Louis De Zoysa (right) has been found guilty of murdering Metropolitan Police officer Matt Ratana (Photo: NationalWorld/Metropolitan Police) | NationalWorld/Metropolitan Police

De Zoysa then fired a fourth time while on the cell floor 16 seconds later, hitting an artery in his own neck and causing brain damage. The 25-year-old now uses a wheelchair and has communication difficulties, and is being treated at a healthcare unit in Northamptonshire.

The court heard that in the early hours of Friday, 25 September 2020, the defendant was arrested by officers in Norbury, and a search revealed he had a bag with seven bullets and cannabis on him. However, they missed a .41-calibre revolver loaded with six rounds hidden in a holster under his left arm.

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CCTV evidence suggested he managed to get hold of the gun with his right hand around 16 minutes before the shooting while being transported in a police van, and then took advantage of a vent at the back of his overcoat to hide the weapon.

The court heard De Zoysa bought the antique revolver on the internet legally, three months before the murder. He used bullets he had made himself, and tested that they worked.

During the trial, however, jurors were not told about other weapons found in his Banstead flat and workshop, including an infantry rifle, a pipe gun, a dummy launcher and various types of ammunition.

The antique revolver used by Louis De Zoysa to shoot Metropolitan Police officer Matt Ratana in the chest inside a custody block in Croydon (Photo: Metropolitan Police/PA Wire)The antique revolver used by Louis De Zoysa to shoot Metropolitan Police officer Matt Ratana in the chest inside a custody block in Croydon (Photo: Metropolitan Police/PA Wire)
The antique revolver used by Louis De Zoysa to shoot Metropolitan Police officer Matt Ratana in the chest inside a custody block in Croydon (Photo: Metropolitan Police/PA Wire) | Metropolitan Police/PA Wire

De Zoysa has been remanded in custody, to be sentenced at a later date.

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Sgt Ratana’s partner, Su Bushby, and Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley were among those in the public gallery as the verdict was delivered on Friday.

Outside the courthouse, Sir Rowley said he believed “more lives would certainly have been lost” without the courage of officers on duty the night Sgt Ratana was murdered. “Officers never have a perfect picture of what awaits them at the next incident," he said.

“Every day for example, we take several firearms off the streets of London and the vast majority of those are seized in routine police work by unarmed officers. The men and women in policing daily stepping forward into uncertainty and risk are truly remarkable and deserve our admiration."

“The officers and staff on duty the night Matt was murdered show just those attributes," Sir Rowley said. “Without their courage, I believe that more lives would certainly have been lost... I’m immensely proud of their professionalism and their bravery. They have my enduring admiration and my full support.”

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Sgt Ratana was an “outstanding” officer who “treated everyone with respect, with compassion, and with good humour”, the commissioner said. “Matt dedicated 30 years of his life to policing and he was nearing retirement when he was tragically murdered.

“Whether it was on the streets or in the custody centre, as a uniformed police officer, on the rugby field or later as a coach, it’s clear that he was someone who made an enduring impact wherever he went," he said.

Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, also paid tribute to the fallen officer: “Matt was a heroic officer who paid the ultimate price for helping to keep Londoners safe," he said.

"I welcome today’s verdict and support the full force of the law against those who seek to harm any of our courageous emergency services. He epitomised the very best of London and will never be forgotten." Khan added: “Every day, our police officers run towards danger to protect others and keep our communities safe and we owe them a huge debt of gratitude.”

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