Jurors at a murder trial yesterday were shown video of the moment when, while in the Croydon Custody Centre in September 2020, a man under arrest, with his hands handcuffed behind his back and in the presence of two other police officers, managed to fire a gun four times, killing Sgt Mat Ratana.
Louis De Zoysa, 25, from Banstead, denies the murder of the veteran police sergeant, who was just weeks away from retirement when the incident happened.
De Zoysa had purchased the antique pistol a couple of months earlier, the court heard, and on the fateful night he had it hidden under his armpit, undetected by the officers who had arrested and searched him.
De Zoysa fired four times in the custody cell. Two bullets hit Ratana at point-blank range, one in the chest, the other in his leg. Another was discharged into a wall and with the fourth, he caused himself life-changing injuries.
De Zoysa has been attending the murder trial at Northampton Crown Court in a wheelchair, his arm in a sling, responding to questions using a whiteboard, as he claims to have suffered brain damage as a consequence of his injuries.
As well as the custody centre CCTV, the jury was also shown body-cam footage and audio from De Zoysa’s arrest earlier that evening in Croydon.
Using blank cartridges, jurors were also given the opportunity of firing the gun that it is alleged was used that night.
“Louis De Zoysa pulled the trigger on purpose four times,” Duncan Penny KC, prosecuting, told the court.
Penny told the jury that De Zoysa bought the antique gun at an auction in June 2020, that it was legal to own, and that the accused had made his own bullets because ammunition for it was no longer available.
Officers who arrested and searched De Zoysa earlier in the day “did not find” he was carrying a loaded revolver in a holster, the court heard.
“The prosecution say Louis De Zoysa pointed his gun at Sgt Ratana”, and that he “pulled the trigger on purpose twice when he was pointing the gun at Sgt Ratana”.
Penny added: “There is CCTV footage and other video of what happened.
“The video and the audio shows Louis De Zoysa killing Matthew Ratana.”
On the opening day of the case on Tuesday, the court heard the fourth shot had hit De Zoysa in the neck, causing him brain damage.
The prosecution opened their case by recounting the events that led up to the shooting.
The jury was told that De Zoysa was walking along London Road, Norbury, on Friday, September 25, 2020, when he stopped and searched by officers on the street and handcuffed.
“The police officers found that Louis De Zoysa was carrying cannabis and seven rounds of ammunition, but the police officers did not find that Louis De Zoysa was carrying a loaded revolver in a holster.
“The gun and holster were probably concealed under one of his armpits,” the court was told
De Zoysa was taken to the custody centre on Windmill Road and put in a holding room. All this time, De Zoysa remained in handcuffs.
Penny told jurors, “Louis De Zoysa kept the gun hidden and was able to point the gun at Sgt Ratana.
“He deliberately shot Sgt Ratana, once to the chest, at very close range. He did not give a warning.”
The court heard the other officers present were not able to stop De Zoysa, and the shot caused a fatal injury to Sgt Ratana’s left lung and heart. The prosecution says this was “deliberate”.
“The second shot was another deliberate shot at Sgt Ratana.” That hit the officer in the leg.
The prosecution told the court De Zoysa “must have been able to get hold of the gun after he was arrested and before he left the police van”.
The case continues.
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