Croydon police station death: Sergeant Matt Ratana died from gunshot wound to chest, inquest reveals

Sergeant Matt Ratana was shot in the chest. Credit: MPS Hackney

Metropolitan Police Sergeant Matt Ratana died from a gunshot wound to the chest, according to a preliminary post-mortem examination report.

The 54-year-old was shot by a handcuffed suspect in the early hours of September 25 at a custody suite in Croydon.

The 23-year-old suspect, who was not named during the ten-minute inquest opening at Croydon Coroner’s Court, was also injured and remains critically ill in hospital. Detective Superintendent Nick Blackburn said the weapon was discharged “several times”.

A revolver was later recovered from the scene. He told the inquest the suspect was first detained by police in Pollards Hill in south London at 1.30am.

Matt Ratana was killed by a handcuffed suspect Credit: Metropolitan Police/PA

The suspect was handcuffed and taken into custody on suspicion of the possession of ammunition and a class B drug. He said: “Upon arrival (at Croydon custody centre), he (the suspect) was taken to a holding room where he remained in handcuffs. “The custody sergeant, Matt Ratana, entered the holding room. “The suspect discharged the weapon several times, during which the sergeant and the suspect were injured.” The inquest heard Sgt Ratana was taken to St George’s Hospital in Tooting but he was pronounced dead at 4.20am. Det Supt Blackburn said the preliminary cause of death given following the post-mortem examination was a gunshot wound to the chest. No members of Sgt Ratana’s family, including his partner Su Bushby, were present for the hearing, although Sgt Ratana’s son in Australia was among those listening in remotely. Sarah Ormond-Walshe, senior coroner for south London, adjourned the hearing until a further date.

Sergeant Matt Ratana received a long and good service medal from Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick in May 2017 Credit: Metropolitan Police/PA

The officer of almost 30 years has been described as someone who epitomised the role police play in protecting others and - as head coach at East Grinstead Rugby Club - was said to be an “irreplaceable figure”.

New Zealand’s high commissioner to the UK has made an emotional visit earlier on Thursday to the scene where countryman Mr Ratana was killed. Bede Corry joined Metropolitan Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick to pay his respects at a makeshift shrine in the grounds of Croydon Custody Centre, where New Zealand-born Sgt Ratana – also known as Matiu – was shot. Mr Corry laid a wreath and paused briefly in front of the sombre memorial, bedecked with scores of floral bouquets, and surrounded by New Zealand flags and sports jerseys.