A COVENTRY man who shot a friend in the head at almost point-blank range with a semi-automatic pistol has been cleared of murder after insisting he did not believe the gun was loaded.
Jordan Bassett had pleaded guilty at Warwick Crown Court to the manslaughter of 27-year-old Addison Packeer, but denied an allegation that the shooting was murder.
And after a total of almost 11-and-a-half hours, the jury found him not guilty, although they convicted him of possessing the Luger with intent to endanger life, which he had also denied.
Sentence on Bassett (25) of Tintagel Close, Coventry, who had admitted a further charge of possessing the gun after the fatal shooting, was adjourned until Wednesday.
The jury had heard that on December 7 last year the two men went to a flat in Chepstow Close, Willenhall, Coventry, where Wayne Anglin ran a business cooking and selling Caribbean food.
They sat in the living room, and as Mr Anglin prepared food for them in the kitchen, he heard a noise and rushed through to see Mr Packeer had been shot to the head.
Bassett, who had fired the fatal shot, was trying to stop the bleeding, but then left, taking the gun, the magazine and the spent cartridge with him and throwing them into a quarry pond.
When it was recovered after he handed himself in a few days later it was in two parts, and in the magazine was a single bullet, although there was no round in the body of the pistol.
Bassett admitted manslaughter on the basis that he had killed Mr Packeer through ‘gross negligence’ while they were ‘mucking about’ with the gun, which he did not realise was loaded.
Of the murder charge, prosecutor Kevin Hegarty QC had alleged: “He deliberately fired the gun, and when he fired it he intended to shoot Addison Packeer.”
Giving evidence, Bassett claimed he had not seen the gun, a Luger semi-automatic, before Mr Packeer produced it and put it on the table as they sat in Mr Anglin’s flat.
But Mr Hegarty had told the jury it had been ‘in the sole possession of Jordan Bassett or in the joint possession of Jordan Bassett and Addison Packeer.’
“Both men were involved in drug-dealing and were acting together in that enterprise, and the possession of firearms to enforce their will on others goes hand-in-hand with such dealing.
“To have such a weapon and ammunition in such a situation is consistent only with an intent to endanger life. Why else do you have a loaded Luger gun on the streets?”
Of the shooting itself, Bassett said the firearm was first being handled by Mr Packeer, who was ‘just playing around’ with it as they sat on a sofa in Mr Anglin’s living room.
“While I was eating my food he was pointing the firearm around, and he pointed it at my knee, and I told him to move it away. He was just messing around, there was no bad vibes in the room whatsoever.”
He said Mr Anglin had been in the room at that time, but had then gone to get Mr Packeer’s food, and when he returned with it, Mr Packeer put the gun on the table and began eating.
Of what happened next, Bassett said: “I did put the gloves on and pick up the firearm. Addison was eating his food, and I was bored. I didn’t want to touch the gun without gloves on.
“I was just pointing the firearm around, messing around. I didn’t think it was loaded. The magazine was on the table.
“I turned round to Addison, and the gun’s gone off. When Addison was messing around with it he’d told me it wasn’t loaded.
“I was sitting right next to him. I was in a state of shock, I think. I threw the firearm, and I was trying my hardest to help Addison. He was bleeding from the right side of his head.
“I was shocked, scared, I didn’t know what to think. I was trying to help him.”
Asked by his barrister Tim Raggatt QC how he felt about what had happened, Bassett replied: “Words can’t describe how I feel. Addison was my friend. I would never want to hurt him.”
After the jury had returned its verdicts, Judge Sylvia de Bertodano adjourned sentencing until Wednesday, explaining: “It would be appropriate for everyone to take stock.”
And remanding Bassett in custody, she told him: “You have heard the verdicts of the jury. You will have to be sentenced on count one [possessing the pistol with intent to endanger life] and the two offences you have pleaded guilty to.”