Killer of Met Sgt Ratana Louis De Zoysa sentenced to life in prison
A detained cannabis user who shot dead a custody sergeant has been sentenced to life in prison today.
A judge has ruled that Louis De Zoysa, 26, “acted in cold blood” when he murdered Sargeant Matt Ratana, 54, by firing a gun into his chest in 2020, and handed him a whole life order.
Jurors convicted De Zoysa in June this year after watching CCTV footage that showed him shooting New Zealand-born Sgt Ratana twice while he was handcuffed and held in custody in Croydon, south London, in 2020.
Reading out his sentence from Northampton Crown Court this afternoon, Justice Jeremy Johnson said De Zoysa knew that he was in possession of a concealed revolver on September 25, 2020, that he knew it could kill, and that he tried to retrieve the firearm while handcuffed.
Justice Johnson added: “You had no lawful or good reason for the possession of the loaded gun or the cartridges.”
Continuing the sentence, the Justice said he was starting from the point of a whole life order, which demands he spend the rest of his life in prison.
The judge added that he posed a “lethal risk” both to Sgt Ratana and other nearby officers, who had treated him with “conspicuous compassion and kindness” during previous arrests.
He was found guilty following a three-week trial at Northampton Crown Court after jurors viewed the slow-motion footage showing the moment Sgt Ratana was hit in the chest by the first of three shots discharged by De Zoysa.
De Zoysa claimed diminished responsibility during the trial, stating his autism was partially to blame for the incident.
But jurors decided he pulled the antique weapon’s trigger deliberately to fire homemade bullets and did not suffer an autistic meltdown.
Justice Johnson said he considered the effects autism would have on his culpability, acknowledging that, while the condition would impact social interactions, it did not have a bearing on his decision to kill Sgt Ratana.
While summing up his remarks, Justice Johnson said: “Autism is not to blame, you are to blame for that.”
De Zoysa fired three shots within three seconds, with a second bullet hitting the 54-year-old in the thigh, and a third hitting the cell wall of the Windmill Road custody centre as De Zoysa was wrestled to the ground by officers.
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He discharged a fourth shot 16 seconds later while lying on the cell floor that hit an artery in his own neck and caused brain damage.
Officers did not, however, discover a holstered .41-calibre revolver loaded with six rounds he “retrieved” from a hiding place under his left arm while he was being transferred in a police van and his hands were handcuffed behind him.
CCTV footage shown to the jury suggested he got hold of the gun with his right hand around 16 minutes before the shooting.
In that time, he took advantage of a vent at the back of his overcoat to hide the weapon, which was loaded with homemade bullets.
Sgt Ratana’s family read victim impact statements to the court ahead of his sentencing today, with his partner, Su Bushby, speaking of “tormenting grief” following his death.
She said: “The tormenting grief was so overwhelming and the feeling of emptiness was so intense. I just sat there, waiting and willing him to walk through the door. I still do to this day.
“The last few years have been surreal. I remember seeing the man who shot Matt for the first time in November 2022, it was two years after I had lost my soulmate. I found it extremely difficult to face him because I remember thinking how unfair it was.
“I have been in a state of limbo since that day. I have not been able to get on with my life and wasn’t able to work for two years, I still can’t move on with my life after losing Matt and I don’t know if I ever will.”
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