Louis De Zoysa was born on the 17th July 1997. He was aged 13 years and 11 months when he was formally diagnosed with autism. On the 25th September 2020 Louis De Zoysa left his home address and took two buses to London Road, Norbury. He was stopped by Metropolitan police officers whilst walking along London Road, late at night. He was searched by the police officers. He volunteered that he was in possession of cannabis which was found. During the search, the police officers found ammunition. Louis De Zoysa was also carrying an antique loaded revolver which was not found by the police despite them searching him. He was arrested in relation to the cannabis, handcuffed and placed in a police van. He was further arrested for the ammunition whilst being transported to Croydon Police Station.
When he arrived at the police station, he was escorted to a holding cell. Sergeant Ratana was the custody officer at Croydon Police Station. He entered the cell in order to have Louis De Zoysa searched. Louis De Zoysa produced the revolver and shot Sergeant Ratana in the chest. The shot caused a fatal injury to the left lung and heart of Sergeant Ratana. Louis fired three further shots during the struggle with the other officers who were in the cell. The fourth shot caused severe life threatening injuries to Louis De Zoysa which resuled in damage to the brain and permanent physical and mental impairments. All of these events - the journey to Croydon Police Station and the shooting in the cell - were captured on camera (police officers body worn cameras and CCTV). The video footage was a central feature of the case against Louis De Zoysa. A compilation of the footage was released to the media and is in the public domain.
Sergeant Ratana died from his injuries. Louis De Zoysa’s injuries were such that he was hospitalised. He was arrested for the murder on the 13th November 2020 but was not well enough to be interviewed. On the 29th June 2021 Louis De Zoysa was charged with murder.
In November 2022 there was hearing before Mr Justice Jeremy Baker when the defence argued that Louis De Zoysa was not fit to plead/stand trial. Dr Quinto Deeley, a consultant psychiatrist specialising in autism, ADHD, learning disability, and acquired brain injury in adults, as well as mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, psychosis, bipolar affective disorder and addictions, (http://www.quintondeeley.co.uk/) gave evidence that Louis De Zoysa was unfit to plead due to an inability to understand the course of the proceedings, or to give adequate instructions to his legal advisers. Dr Nigel Blackwood, Professor of Forensic Psychiatry at King's College London, (https://www.kcl.ac.uk/people/nigel-blackwood) gave evidence to the effect that although he was unfit to plead six months after the shooting, he had since assessed Louis De Zoysa to be fit to plead “provided that the court room process was sufficiently simplified and the accused had the services of an intermediary”. Mr Justice Baker found Louis De Zoysa fit to stand trial.
A further hearing took place before Mr Justice Jeremy Johnson in April 2023 when it was again argued by the defence that Louis De Zoysa was not fit to plead/stand trial. On this occasion Dr Dinesh Maganty, a consultant forensic psychiatrist at Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust (https://uk.linkedin.com/in/dinesh-maganty-73abb759) gave evidence that Louis De Zoysa might have suffered an autistic meltdown and that he could not understand the meaning of diminished responsibility. Dr Blackwood again gave evidence for the prosecution stating that Louis De Zoysa was fit to stand trial. Mr Justice Johnson ruled that Louis De Zoysa was fit to be tried.
The trial took place at Northampton Crown Court. Louis De Zoysa had the assistance of an intermediary throughout. The prosecution case at trial was that Louis De Zoysa deliberately fired the revolver; that he did it twice whilst he was deliberately pointing the gun at Sergeant Ratana and that he intended to kill him or cause him really serious harm. Louis De Zoysa’s defence was that at the time of the shooting he was suffering from an autistic meltdown. He relied on the partial defence of diminished responsibility. Dr Dinesh Maganty and Dr David Murphy, a Chartered Forensic and Consultant Clinical Neuropsychologist (https://www.autism.org.uk/directory/m/murphy-david-dr) gave evidence on behalf of the defence. Dr Nigel Blackwood gave evidence on behalf of the prosecution.
On the 23rd June 2023 Louis De Zoysa was found guilty of murder. Sentence was adjourned to the 27th July 2023. On the 27th July 2023 Mr Justice Johnson sentenced Louis De Zoysa to a whole life sentence meaning that he will be required to spend the rest of his life in prison.
Media coverage of the case can be found here:
The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) recommended search wands to be introduced into all police forces following the shooting: