Man appears in court accused of murdering Metropolitan Police Sergeant

A man has appeared in court charged with the murder of a Metropolitan Police Sergeant who was shot dead at a south London custody centre last year.

Louis De Zoysa is accused of shooting Matt Ratana in the chest while handcuffed during a search at a police station in Croydon in the early hours of September 25, 2020.

The 24-year-old answered “Yeah” when asked to confirm his identity during a brief hearing at the Old Bailey on Friday morning.

No plea was asked for or entered, and a further review hearing has been set for December 23.

Judge Mark Lucraft QC, the Recorder of London, said: “It seems to me that there are certain things that we just need to put in place before conducting what would otherwise be a plea and trial preparation hearing.”

Sergeant Matt Ratana was described as a ‘gentle giant’ (Metropolitan Police/PA)

A bearded De Zoysa appeared in a small square at the bottom of a screen during Friday’s hearing wearing a blue top and flanked by two people who were both wearing masks.

He is expected to also appear via videolink at the December hearing.

Addresses for De Zoysa have previously been given as Park Road, Banstead in Surrey and Southbrook Road, Norbury in south-west London, but a court official on Friday said he was of no fixed address.

He is accused of discharging four bullets in a holding cell at Croydon Custody Centre during the alleged incident last year, in which he was also injured.

The first shot hit 54-year-old Sgt Ratana in the chest, causing a fatal wound, while he was also hit in the leg.

De Zoysa received a life-threatening bullet injury during the incident and had been recovering in hospital under police guard since the killing.

He is understood to remain in hospital.

Police charged him with murder as well as possession of a firearm and possession of ammunition on June 29 following changes in his medical condition.

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick was among those at a memorial service (Gareth Fuller/PA)

At an Old Bailey hearing in July, the court heard New Zealand-born Sgt Ratana was allegedly shot and killed by De Zoysa after he was arrested following a stop and search in Norwood, south London.

Sgt Ratana was taken to St George’s Hospital, where he was later pronounced dead, while De Zoysa survived after he was treated by officers and London Ambulance staff.

Following Sgt Ratana’s death, his partner Su Bushby described him as a “gentle giant”.

In a tribute, she said: “Matt was my partner, friend, confidant, support and soul mate.

“He will be greatly missed but never forgotten. Matt will always be in my head and in my heart.”

A memorial for the police officer was held at a chapel in Shoreham-by-Sea, West Sussex, in November, with the event live-streamed around the world so well-wishers in New Zealand and the UK could join amid coronavirus restrictions.

Loved ones and police colleagues paid tribute to Sgt Ratana as a man with a “lion’s heart” during the funeral service.

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick and Home Secretary Priti Patel were among those who paid tribute.

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