Police officer shot dead in Croydon named Matiu Ratana from West Sussex

Video report by ITV News Meridian's Chlöe Oliver

Tributes have been paid to Matiu Ratana, the Metropolitan Police officer fatally shot at a south London custody suite.

Sgt Ratana, 54, from West Sussex, died in hospital after the gunman, who was being detained, opened fire at Croydon Custody Centre in south London during the early hours of Friday.

The officer, also known as Matt, joined the force in 1991.

Friend of Matt and fellow coach, Jay Holt, described him as an "honourable and decent guy".

Matt and Jay both coached at Hove Rugby Club before Matt moved to East Grinstead Rugby Club.

  • Friend and fellow coach Jay Holt pays tribute to Matt Ratana

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick said he was a long-serving and "much-loved" officer.

She described him as "big in stature, big in heart, friendly, capable, a lovely man and highly respected by his colleagues".

  • Met Police chief Cressida Dick pays tribute to Sergeant Matt Ratana

He leaves behind a partner and an adult son from a previous relationship.

Sgt Ratana, originally from Hawke's Bay in New Zealand, came to London in 1989, two years before joining the force.

Police from across the capital have paid tribute to the officer Credit: PA

Dame Cressida described the keen rugby player as a "leader in his sport".

She continued: "He was very well known locally and he will be remembered so fondly in Croydon and missed there, as well as in the Met and in the rugby world."

Sgt Ratana was the head coach of East Grinstead Rugby Club. The club's chairman, Bob Marsh, and president, Andy Poole, said they were "utterly devastated".

In a statement online, the club said, "East Grinstead Rugby Football Club are utterly devastated to hear the tragic news that the Police Sergeant who lost his life in Croydon, was our Head Coach, Matt Ratana."

The officer was also described as "an inspiration" by a friend who knew him from playing rugby together at the club.

The 27-year-old friend, who would only give his name as Paul, told PA: "We all looked to him - on the field or off the rugby field... losing that is big.

"The man was a machine. He went from training with us last night to come to his shift work here in Croydon. He would do that week in and week out.

"He bought into the whole family atmosphere that we had at the club.

"A few of my team-mates (on hearing about his death) are just not sure how to take it."

England Rugby tweeted: "Our thoughts and those of the entire rugby family are with the family and friends of Sergeant Matt Ratana. Head Coach at @RugbyEGRFC who gave so much to our sport."