Matt Ratana Inquest Media Statement
13th Nov 2023
Today, our London team accompanied Su Bushby, partner of Sgt Matt Ratana who was shot to death in an “unlawful killing” in a custody cell – as confirmed by the Coroner in her conclusion.
Here is Su Bushby’s statement in full to the assembled media:
The events of 25th September 2020 changed my life forever. I will never forgive De Zoysa for his evil actions. Matt and I were robbed of a bright future together.
It has been stolen from us in a cruel, violent and devastating manner. I will never recover from losing my soulmate. Matt was my world and we were looking forward to spending the rest of our lives together.
Matt was a caring, considerate and loving man. His huge smile was infectious. His calm and cheerful demeanour won people over in an instant. He had that rare gift of making people feel included, relevant and listened to.
Matt was loved by his family, friends and colleagues. He had an accomplished career within the Metropolitan Police.
Matt loved being a Police Sergeant. For more than 30 years he served impeccably.
He was universally described as an outstanding officer who made an enduring impact to the force. He was well respected amongst his seniors, peers and the community. He was a gentle giant who gave his time to anybody.
Losing Matt is the most devastating event that has happened to me in my life. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of him.
Over the past three years the pain has been unbearable. The person that I was has gone forever.
The pain has been made worse because of the fact that things should have been different and Matt’s death should have been avoided – for that reason, I am angry.
Matt was killed doing the job he loved, in a Police Station, which should have been a place of safety and security for him.
Over the course of the last three weeks, evidence has been heard at this Inquest as to how De Zoysa was able to smuggle a gun into Croydon Police Station.
I have heard evidence regarding how Metropolitan Police officers did not do their jobs properly, in searching a man who was in possession of a significant amount of drugs and bullets.
If it wasn’t for a catalogue of serious failings, and if people had done their job properly, Matt would still be alive today.
The shoddy and inadequate search undertaken by the police officers was a neglect of their duty and left Matt vulnerable to murder.
The number of failures, the gravity of them and the and impact of both the search failures and failures in the transportation of De Zoysa to the police station, that have come out during the evidence in this Inquest, has left me devastated.
It is my view that Matt has been let down by the Metropolitan Police
Matt gave so much to the Metropolitan Police and its failures to protect him on that night are now clear for all to see.
The search should have been thorough, safe and systematic for it to be effective – it was none of those things. If it was an effective search, the gun would have been found on De Zoysa, and Matt would be alive now.
We also now know that hundreds of contraband items were smuggled into custody suites during the three-year period of 2018, 2019 and 2020, with at least 29 of those items being weapons. The scale of this problem is truly shocking and things need to change.
- I would like for systems to be put in place to ensure all searches of suspects are undertaken thoroughly and training for officers to be fully reviewed.
- I want to see proper security arrangements put in place in police stations to stop the same thing happening to another police officer.
- I want everyone to know, especially police officers, that improvements must be made or more lives will be lost. I do not want Matt’s death to be in vain.
Not once, during the past three years, has anyone from the Metropolitan Police informed me that there was any issue with the search on that fateful night. I have not been informed by anyone during this time that the actions of the Metropolitan Police may have contributed towards Matt’s death. If the Metropolitan Police had been more open and transparent with me about their failings, it would have gone a long way to making the last few weeks of this Inquest easier.
The thing that has helped me most over the past three years is the steadfast support from friends, family and members of the public including complete strangers from around the world who have been incredible.
I want to thank them all from the bottom of my heart.
Matt’s legacy will live on through the rugby foundation we have established: “The Matt Ratana Rugby Foundation”. This will benefit disadvantaged young people from all backgrounds and is inspired by the values that Matt cherished and the ambitions he planned to realise – to create opportunity, provide guidance and inspire change for young people through rugby.
Finally, I’d also like to thank my legal team who have helped me and supported me during this Inquest and have fought hard to get to the truth of what happened on that fateful day that Matt died.
I would now like to request some privacy, so that I can finally begin to grieve.
Hollie Muckley, solicitor at law firm HCC, added:
“The past three years have been a traumatic and testing time for everyone who loved Matt.
“As the Coroner has confirmed today, Matt’s death was completely avoidable and he would still be alive today if the correct search procedures were followed by officers in the Met.
“We’d like to thank the Coroner for the way she has sensitively and diligently conducted this Inquest to formally confirm the events that led to his death.
“We will now take some time to reflect on the conclusion.
“We hope and expect the Met to do the same and confirm that measures will be taken as a matter of urgency to avoid any other Police Officers and their families falling foul of the same catastrophic errors by colleagues they should be able to trust to keep them safe.
“The past two weeks have been especially traumatic for our client.
“We now request privacy for her and the family so that grieving can begin. Thank you.”