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Croydon Police Station gunman found guilty of murdering custody sergeant

A gunman has been found guilty of murdering a custody sergeant after he smuggled a revolver into a police station and opened fire in a cell while still handcuffed.

Former tax office data analyst Louis De Zoysa claimed diminished responsibility but was unanimously convicted after a jury ruled he had deliberately pulled the trigger of the ancient weapon and had not suffered an autistic attack.

A three-week trial at Northampton Crown Court was shown with harrowing video footage of New Zealand-born Met Police Sergeant Matt Ratana struck in the chest by the first of three shots fired by De Zoysa in three seconds.

Sgt Ratana died of his injuries in hospital despite the best efforts of medical staff.

The Louis de Zoysa court caseThe Louis de Zoysa court case

Sergeant Matt Ratana (Metropolitan Police/AP)

A second bullet hit the 54-year-old in the thigh before De Zoysa was wrestled to the ground by other officers, while a third round hit the wall of the cell at Windmill Road custody center in Croydon.

De Zoysa, who lived in Banstead, Surrey, fired a fourth shot while on the cell floor 16 seconds later, hitting an artery in his own neck and causing brain damage.

The 25-year-old, who now uses a wheelchair, has communication difficulties and is being treated at a Northamptonshire health facility, was arrested in London Road, Norbury, in the early hours of Friday 25 September 2020.

A bag containing seven bullets and cannabis was found during a search of De Zoysa’s clothes and body, but officers did not discover a .41 caliber revolver loaded with six rounds.

During the trial, prosecutors said De Zoysa “retrieved” the gun from a holster under his left arm while he was handcuffed behind as he was being transported down Windmill Road in a police van.

CCTV evidence suggested he managed to grab the gun with his right hand around 16 minutes before the shooting and then took advantage of a vent at the back of his overcoat to hide the weapon until the shooting.

Jurors deliberated for just over five hours over two days before unanimously convicting De Zoysa, who listened to the verdict sitting in a wheelchair in the secure glass-fronted dock.

Louis De ZoysaLouis De Zoysa

Louis De Zoysa in the cell where he later opened fire (Metropolitan Police/AP)

De Zoysa nodded twice as the judge confirmed with him that he had heard the verdict announced by the foreman of the jury.

Sergeant Ratana’s partner Su Bushby and Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley were among those in the public gallery when the verdict was returned.

After the verdict, trial judge Johnson thanked the jury for its deliberations on the case and said it had “discharged a onerous but extremely important public duty”.

Prosecutor Duncan Penny KC told the court other firearms and ammunition charges facing De Zoysa would be allowed to be on the record at a sentencing hearing at the same court next month.

The judge did not directly address De Zoysa, who has communication difficulties due to brain damage from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, immediately before remanding him.

After buying the antique revolver, which he was legal to own, on the internet three months before the murder, De Zoysa used bullets he had made and tested that they worked, the court heard.

At the time of his arrest, De Zoysa was traveling in the general direction of his father’s home in south-east London, after taking two buses and walking to the junction of London Road and Pollards Hill North.

Preliminary hearings, where De Zoysa was twice found fit to plead to the charges despite his communication problems, were told that an infantry rifle was among the items found in his flat and workshop in Banstead.

Jurors were not told about the other weapons in De Zoysa’s possession, which also included a barrel gun, a dummy launcher and various types of ammunition.

An examination of his digital devices confirmed his interest in weapons as well as violence across a range of ideologies, including right-wing extremism, Islamic extremism and homophobia.