THE Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have paid tribute to a police officer who was shot dead at a police station in Croydon.

Prince William laid a bouquet of flowers on a bench made in memory of Sergeant Matt Ratana, who was killed while on duty last year.

The 54-year-old rugby coach from Goring died from a gunshot wound to the chest.

Police arrested Louis De Zoysa, who was also hit in the neck by a bullet.

It was reported that that the 23-year-old "seriously ill" in hospital with Covid-19, while he remained under police guard.

The Duke met several of Sergeant Ratana’s colleagues to pass on his condolences and hear some of their memories of working with him.

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A post shared by Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (@dukeandduchessofcambridge)

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The image shared on their Instagram account read: "Paying tribute to Met Police's Sergeant Matt Ratana, who was tragically shot and killed whilst on duty last year.

"At Croydon Custody Centre The Duke met several of Sergeant Ratana’s colleagues to pass on his condolences and hear some of their memories of working with him.

"Sergeant Ratana worked in the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) for nearly 30 years, having joined the Met Police in 1991.

"The MPS has been supporting the mental health of its workforce through initiatives including Operation Hampshire, which helps those who have been injured or assaulted whilst at work.

"Their Mental Health Network works to break down the stigma of mental health, supporting and directing officers and staff to both internal and external support, including a volunteer peer-support service run by its team of 1,200 trained Blue Light Champions.

"With today’s visit taking place during #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek, The Duke also met Dexter, the Met Police’s first welfare and wellbeing support dog, who helps officers deal with stressful and traumatic incidents they come across in the line of duty."

The memorial for the 54-year-old at a chapel in Shoreham in November was attended in person this morning by a limited number of his family, friends and close colleagues due to coronavirus restrictions.

But the event was live-streamed around the world so that loved ones, including Sergeant Ratana’s family in his native New Zealand as well as in the UK, could join the service.

His coffin was covered in the Met’s ceremonial drape, which is used for a death in service, with his police cap placed on top.

A tribute from his partner Su Bushby was read on her behalf by friend Lorraine Dray.

She said: “Matt made the most of every minute of his precious 54 years. In any situation or room he walked into, his presence would always be felt. Like a big ball of energy.

“You were taken far too soon, but your gym, rugby and policing family will help your legacy, your kindness and your spirit live on.

“You have touched so many people’s lives and will be truly missed. My life has been richer and funnier for knowing you and I feel blessed you were in my life.”