Sergeant Matt Ratana died from gunshot wound to the chest after being blasted by suspect in Croydon police station

A COP blasted by a handcuffed suspect in a Croydon police station died from a gunshot wound to the chest, an inquest heard today.

Sergeant Matt Ratana, 54, was allegedly hit with a smuggled revolver by Louis De Zoysa while he was being held in the custody suite.

The 23-year-old somehow concealed a revolver in his pants after his stop-and-search arrest for possession of Class B drugs and ammunition.

He is fighting for his life in hospital after blasting himself in the neck as he peppered the Croydon police station with bullets last Friday.

An inquest opening today heard how Sgt Matt died from a gunshot wound to the chest after being injured in the horror.

Police are still searching two homes linked to the horror – one in Norbury, South West London, and the other in Banstead, Surrey.

New Zealand's high commissioner to the UK today paid a poignant visit to the Croydon custody suite where the kiwi cop was killed.

Bede Corry was joined by Metropolitan Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick as they looked at tributes left for the rugby fanatic.

As he laid a wreath, the commissioner said: "New Zealanders were shocked and saddened to learn of the tragic death of Sergeant Matiu Ratana.

"We came today, to the place where he died, to share our grief and convey our condolences to the Metropolitan Police Service and through them, to Matiu's family.

"As someone who was a police officer in New Zealand and the United Kingdom, he uniquely served both countries. We know he will be deeply missed.

"The High Commission will continue to support the Metropolitan Police Service as they assist Matiu's family."

Sgt Matt had been planning to propose to his partner of six years Su Bushby when he was gunned down.

She paid tribute to the hero cop last week, saying: "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.

“Matt was my partner, friend, confidant, support and soul mate.

“He will be greatly missed but never forgotten. Matt will always be in my head and in my heart."

The veteran officer, who was due to retire to spend more time with Su, was the first ever officer to be killed inside a British police station.

Sgt Matt had moved to work in custody as it was safer before the tragedy.

The officer had served with the Met Police since 1991 and worked in Croydon from 2015.

He had told colleagues he intended to quit as early as next year, and posted of his excitement at the prospect of “a long healthy life”.

Pals said Sgt Ratana, dad to a grown-up son, 26, dreamed of travelling Europe on his motorbike then coaching at his rugby club in Sussex.

The suspect had been detained in an area of London Road, Pollards Hill for possession of ammunition and possession of class B drugs.

He was taken to the custody centre in Windmill Lane where he remained handcuffed until a door was opened for him to be searched with a metal detector.

But as the sergeant prepared to take his temperature under Covid rules, the suspect shot him at "point-blank" range, a source said.

The gunman blazed off more shots, five in all, in a fierce struggle in the corridor at 2.15am.

Colleagues battled to save stricken Sgt Ratana's life with medics performing open heart surgery at the custody centre.

But sadly the officer couldn't be saved and he was later declared dead at the hospital.

Images have emerged of De Zoysa showing off his love of weapons as he posed with a 5ft medieval sword.

Fellow school pupils remembered him as a “socially awkward” but highly intelligent teenager who mysteriously dropped out of university.

The Brit of Sri Lankan heritage was also said to have had a “turbulent” home life.

He was seen smiling in his uniform as a 16-year-old at The John Fisher School in Purley, South London.

Comments in his final school yearbook, obtained by The Sun, described him as a “maths geek” who was “good with weapons”.

The school is only a few miles from the custody suite at Croydon, where De Zoysa is accused of killing Sgt Ratana.

A former school pupil said: “What he’s accused of doing has come as a total shock. It is absolutely mental.”

After school, De Zoysa went on to study mechanical engineering at University College London, but dropped out after a year.

Police have confirmed they are not carrying out a counter terrorism investigation.

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