Inquest finds Met failed to properly search Sergeant Matt Ratana’s killer

An inquest into the death of Sergeant Matt Ratana concluded yesterday that he was unlawfully killed and that there were failures in the searching and observations of Louis de Zoysa.

De Zoysa, 25, from Surrey, who shot and killed Sgt Ratana in Croydon Custody Centre in September 2020, was given a while life order in July – meaning he will never leave prison. 

The events surrounding the murder were independently investigated by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

The IOPC investigation found that there were failures in the searching and observations of De Zoysa but the behaviour of arresting officers did not commit any offences and would not need disciplinary procedures.

The police watchdog also recommended to the National Police Chief’s Council (NPCC) that handheld metal detectors needed to be implemented in all police response vehicles and vehicles be used to transport detained persons.

The HSE report concluded it was satisfied that the Met had implemented changes to its safety management system.

De Zoyza was arrested in September 2020, in London Road, Norbury, and taken to the Croydon Custody Centre where officers failed to find an antique revolver which he had legally purchased over the internet. 

It had been loaded with six rounds of ammunition which he had made himself.

Northampton Crown Court heard how De Zoyza managed to get hold of the gun and let off four shots, one hitting New Zealand-born Sgt Ratana who had been a Met officer for almost 30 years in the chest and another in the leg.

One bullet hit De Zoysa in the neck, leaving him with brain damage. 

De Zoyza was found guilty of the sergeant’s murder in June and sentenced in July at the Old Bailey, Mr Justice Jeremy Johnson said Sgt Ratana “had devoted his life to public service, he had put himself in the way of danger to protect the public.”

De Zoysa, who was living in a flat at a farm in Banstead, Surrey, at the time of the shooting, denied murder.

He told jurors that he did not mean to fire the gun and was having a “panic attack” at the time, while his lawyers argued his responsibility was diminished by an autistic meltdown.

De Zoysa had worked for HMRC in Croydon for around 16 months as a data analyst.

He bought the gun, which was legal to own due to its antique status, on the internet in June 2020, and made the ammunition on the farm, the court heard.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner (DAC) Stuart Cundy, said: “My first thoughts are with Matt’s partner Su and his family. 

“The appalling act of violence that stole Matt from them continues to have a lasting impact on all his loved ones and the large number of people whose lives he touched, both inside and outside of the Met.

“Like others, when I heard Matt had been fatally shot I was utterly shocked. 

“The arresting officers recognised that their search and observations of de Zoysa could have been more systematic, and should have found the firearm. 

“We will never forget Matt and will continue to honour his legacy, which will live on through his family, his many friends and colleagues in the Met, in his rugby foundation and beyond.”

Pictured top: Sergeant Matt Ratana (Picture: The Met)

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