Prince William pays tribute to killed Sergeant Matt Ratana at Croydon custody centre

12 May 2021, 12:00 | Updated: 12 May 2021, 16:16

Colleague of Sergeant Matt Ratana issues powerful tribute about his friend

By Daisy Stephens

The Duke of Cambridge today visited a south London police station to pay tribute to Sergeant Matt Ratana, who was shot and killed while on duty on in September last year.

Prince William met Sergeant Ratana’s colleagues and partner Su Bushby on a visit to Croydon Custody Centre, before learning about how the Metropolitan Police Service is supporting officers' mental health.

William said “clearly he was the heart and soul of the police station” as he discussed Sergeant Ratana with his colleagues.

The Duke spent around an hour there, speaking with Matt's colleagues to pass on his condolences. They shared stories of what it was like working with Matt.

Inspector Wil Ajose-Adeogun, line manager and close friend of Sergeant Ratana, said: "Meeting The Duke today brought back many fond memories of Matt, his enormous energy, his sense of duty and his overwhelming kindness.

"He was not just our colleague, he was our dear friend.

"His personality was the life and sound of Croydon Custody Centre and we all miss him dearly."

Prince William discusses Matt Ratana with his colleagues at Croydon Custody Centre
Prince William discusses Matt Ratana with his colleagues at Croydon Custody Centre. Picture: LBC

Prince William also met for a private discussions with Matt's partner Su as part of the visit.

The royal visit also included an encounter with Dexter, the Met's first welfare and support dog.

It is the latest outing by the Duke in his work with The Royal Foundation, to support the mental health and wellbeing of emergency service workers.

Sergeant Ratana died from a gunshot wound to the chest in the early hours of Friday September 25, as he was preparing to search a handcuffed suspect.

A 23-year-old was arrested on suspicion of his murder on November 13 last year.

Sergeant Matt Ratana was originally from New Zealand
Sergeant Matt Ratana was originally from New Zealand. Picture: PA

Matt moved from New Zealand to the UK in 1989 and joined the Met in 1991, where he served for almost thirty years.

He was a keen rugby player, and has been described as an “inspiration”. He left behind a partner and an adult son, and was described by Met Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick as "a wonderful, wonderful man” in an interview with LBC not long after his death.

She said: “A lovely man, respected by his colleagues, officers, staff and of course by members of the public, including, I may say, suspects arrested or dealt with in custody.

“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.”

Commissioner pays tribute to officer killed in the line of duty

Su Bushby, Sergeant Ratana's partner of six years, described him as her "soulmate".

“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.

Floral tributes to Matt Ratana left outside Croydon Custody Centre
Floral tributes to Matt Ratana left outside Croydon Custody Centre. Picture: PA

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

The killing of Matt Ratana rocked Croydon, with Croydon MP Steve Reed, who had met Sergeant Ratana, saying the loss was hard to bear.

"This officer was known in this community," he told LBC.

"This was not just a police officer, this was a human being and it hurts immensely to so many of us in this community to think that he’s gone."