EXCLUSIVE: Former Met Police sergeant - 'I had gun held to my head in custody suite by prisoner
A FORMER custody sergeant said the shocking murder of Sgt Matt Ratana last month was not the first time a prisoner has been able to smuggle a gun into a police station after being arrested.
The former Met Police DS aged in his 50s, said a gun was put to his head as he was checking in the detainee at the former City Road CID custody suite but the man was quickly disarmed before a shot could be fired.
Mr Ratana was the custody sergeant at Croydon custody centre at 2.14am on Friday when a 23-year-old detainee, who was handcuffed, produced a revolver from his person and was able to fire five times at the 54-year-old officer.
The New Zealand national, whose inquest was opened and adjourned on Thursday, died and the suspect, who has been named as Louis De Zoysa, was shot in the neck by his own gun. De Zoysa, from Norbury, south London, is in a stable condition but police have yet to interview him, as he is in an unfit condition due to life-changing injuries. The former DS, who did not want to be named as he remains involved in criminal intelligence, said: "This happened to me when I was a custody officer booking in a prisoner.
"I asked the arresting officer if the prisoner had been searched on the street, he said yes and I asked the prisoner to turn out his pockets and he pulled a loaded gun out and pointed it at my head."
SUSPECT: Louis De Zoysa blowing out candles in a Facebook image But the retired officer, who spent years investigating organised crime, said he managed to floor the prisoner and get the gun off him.
He added: "He wasn’t standing for long. I knew the prisoner as a local drug dealer who had problems with the police.
"If a prisoner has not been searched on the street the custody officer should ask the arresting officer to search him in the custody suite.
"It’s a common mistake by some cops. Not saying this is the case here (Mr Ratana). It will hopefully all come out.
"The arresting officer in my case got a severe b******ing and my street cred went up because of the way I took the gun off the prisoner.
"When I heard about Mr Ratana, I realised that could easily have been me. Chilling."
Although the PC was unofficially reprimanded, the former detective said there had been no big inquiry into how the incident happened.
He added: "We didn’t make a big deal out of it because it would have dropped the PC in it and he wasn’t a bad lad."
A Met Police spokesman said it was not possible to comment on an incident that happened 35 years ago.
He also said there were no recorded details on how many times a prisoner had been able to smuggle a gun, knife or other weapon into a custody suite.
He suggested the information may only be available through a Freedom of Information Act request, which we have now made.
Gentle Giant: Matt Ratana
The Met and Independent Office for Police Conduct are still investigating how De Zoysa, who was arrested by a volunteer special constable, was able to keep the gun hidden for half an hour after being arrested on suspicion of possession of class B drugs with intent to supply and possession of ammunition."
Su Bushby, Mr Ratana's partner, paid him an emotional tribute earlier this month.
She said: "There aren’t really any words for how I am feeling right now about the loss of Matt; about losing someone I loved and was so close to in such a tragic manner.
“I know Matt touched many, many people’s lives with his friendliness, patience, kindness, enthusiasm and caring ways.
“I had the pleasure of sharing five years of my life with this lovely man - my gentle giant, with his infectious smile and big heart. I think of him with tenderness and love."
The Met Police also held a one-minute silence to mark one week on from the murder.
A man who was arrested in the early hours of the Sunday after the murder, on suspicion of supplying a firearm in connection with the murder, was bailed last week.