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Court sees CCTV footage of custody sergeant being shot dead in police cell

Jurors at Northampton Crown Court were played footage of Louis De Zoysa being wrestled to the floor after Sergeant Matt Ratana was shot in the chest.

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Matt Ratana

A jury has been shown CCTV footage of the moment a gunman under arrest for possessing bullets is alleged to have murdered a Metropolitan Police custody sergeant, firing three shots in three seconds.

Louis De Zoysa, who was still handcuffed when Sergeant Matt Ratana was shot with a revolver in a holding cell, is said by the Crown to have deliberately fired the weapon without warning into the officer’s chest.

During the Crown’s opening speech at Northampton Crown Court, prosecutor Duncan Penny KC said De Zoysa had been placed in a van after being found with seven rounds of ammunition in London Road, Norbury, south London, in the early hours of September 25 2020.

He was taken in a police van to the custody block in Windmill Road, Croydon, but officers failed to find a gun and holster which “were probably concealed under one of his armpits”.

Louis de Zoysa
Louis De Zoysa in court (Elizabeth Cook/PA)

At the start of his speech, Mr Penny said he would be speaking in short sentences because of communication difficulties experienced by De Zoysa, who suffered brain damage due to a gunshot wound.

CCTV played to the jury on Wednesday afternoon showed De Zoysa in the holding cell with Sgt Ratana, who was 54, and two other officers involved in his arrest and detention.

Before taking jurors through the CCTV of the incident, in which Sgt Ratana suffered a fatal wound to his heart and left lung, Mr Penny told the court the first shot was fired at 2.09am.

The KC said: “These are the allegations which the prosecution makes: the first shot hit Sergeant Ratana in the chest.

“This is on CCTV at 02:09:27. The prosecution say Louis De Zoysa pulled the trigger on purpose. That is not accepted (by the defence).

“The second shot hit Sergeant Ratana in the leg. This is on CCTV at 02:09:28. The prosecution say Louis De Zoysa pulled the trigger on purpose. This is not accepted.”

The footage showed officers pulling Sgt Ratana from the cell after the shooting and an officer pointing a Taser towards De Zoysa after he was taken to the ground, moments after the gun was initially fired.

In the footage, which Mr Penny warned jurors they were about to see, De Zoysa could be seen asking one of the officers to “please leave” before Sgt Ratana came into the room and asked him to stand up.

Police officer shot
Sgt Matt Ratana (Metropolitan Police/PA)

The court was told a third shot fired a second later struck the cell wall, and a fourth shot was fired around 16 seconds later, hitting De Zoysa in the neck.

In earlier body-worn camera footage of the initial stop-and-search, officers removed items from De Zoysa’s holdall and patted him down.

During the earlier footage a male officer said to a colleague: “I don’t trust him at all – he’s lied to us non-stop.”

The defendant was 23 when the shooting happened and was living in a flat at a farm in Banstead, Surrey, having bought the gun, which was legal to own due to its antique status, on the internet in June 2020.

Bullets of the correct calibre for the gun are no longer made, Mr Penny said, but De Zoysa “bought the parts to make the bullets” and made ammunition at the farm.

Mr Penny told the court: “Louis De Zoysa knew the gun worked with the bullets he had made.”

De Zoysa, who appeared in the dock in a wheelchair and with his right arm in a sling, denies murder.

The jurors have been told they will have to consider whether De Zoysa deliberately fired the revolver and the question of diminished responsibility.

Imran Khan KC, for De Zoysa, told the jury that the defendant was suffering an autistic meltdown at the time of the shooting.

He said: “Louis De Zoysa says he did not mean to or want to kill Sergeant Ratana, or to cause him really serious harm.

“Louis De Zoysa says that he is not guilty of murder.

“The reason Louis De Zoysa says he is not guilty of murder is because at the time he was suffering from an abnormality of mental function.

“The abnormality of mental function that Louis De Zoysa was suffering was an autistic meltdown.”

The trial was adjourned until Thursday.

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