Matiu Ratana death: Met Police sergeant 'died from gunshot to chest'

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Sgt Matiu Ratana with Cressida DickImage source, Met police
Image caption,
Met Commissioner Cressida Dick had worked with Sgt Matiu Ratana

A Met Police sergeant killed at a custody centre while on duty died from a gunshot wound to the chest, an inquest has heard.

New Zealand-born Sgt Matiu Ratana died in hospital after being shot by handcuffed suspect Louis De Zoysa.

Coroner Sarah Ormond-Walshe read out a preliminary post-mortem examination report at South London Coroner's Court.

She opened and adjourned the inquest into the 54-year-old's death until a later date.

Sgt Ratana's son dialled into the inquest hearing from Australia.

It comes on the day New Zealand's High Commissioner to the UK visited the scene where Sgt Ratana was killed.

Bede Corry laid a wreath and paused briefly in front of a memorial at Croydon Custody Centre.

Image source, PA Media
Image caption,
New Zealand High Commissioner Bede Corry joined Met Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick in Croydon on Thursday
Image source, PA Media
Image caption,
Dozens of police officers have paid tribute to Sgt Matiu Ratana

Since Friday a shrine outside the custody centre has been lined with scores of floral bouquets and surrounded by New Zealand flags and sports jerseys.

Mr Corry said: "New Zealanders were shocked and saddened to learn of the tragic death of Sgt Matiu Ratana.

"As someone who was a police officer in New Zealand and the United Kingdom, he uniquely served both countries. We know he will be deeply missed."

Mr De Zoysa, 23, had been arrested for possession of ammunition and possession of Class B drugs with intent to supply following a stop and search in the London Road area of Pollards Hill at 01:30 BST on Friday.

Image caption,
Louis De Zoysa was arrested on Friday in the London Road area of Pollards Hill

Det Supt Nick Blackburn told the inquest at Croydon Town Hall that Mr De Zoysa arrived at Croydon Custody Centre and was taken into a holding room with officers who prepared to search him again.

"The custody sergeant, Matt Ratana, entered the holding room as part of his duties when the suspect produced a firearm and discharged the weapon several times, during which both Sgt Ratana and the suspect were injured.

"Police and paramedics treated him at the scene and he was taken to hospital by the London Ambulance Service.

"Tragically, Sgt Ratana's life was pronounced extinct at 04:10."

A revolver handgun was recovered from the scene, Det Supt Blackburn added.

Mr De Zoysa remains critically ill at St George's Hospital in Tooting and is still yet to be questioned by detectives investigating the murder.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) confirmed he was handcuffed with his hands behind his back and had been taken to the custody centre in a police vehicle, before being escorted into the building.

No police firearms were discharged in the shooting, and the case is not being treated as terror-related.

Image source, PA Media
Image caption,
The Banstead farmland used to serve as an ammunition depot during the Second World War

Six days on from the fatal shooting detectives are still extensively searching Mr De Zoysa's family in home in Norbury, south London, and a farmland in Banstead, Surrey, which is expected "to take days to complete", the Met has said.

On Wednesday a man from Norwich, who was arrested on suspicion of supplying a firearm, was bailed by detectives until late October.

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