Cape Town -
He was joking and trying to act like “a tough guy” when he pointed the firearm at his friend - a prank that ended in death for his friend, Pedro April.
Now 33-year-old barber John Jonathan Adams has a culpable homicide conviction on his record, and will spend the next three years under correctional supervision, with an additional three-year suspended sentence hanging over his head.
This follows a recent judgment the Western Cape High Court handed down in an appeal Adams had lodged.
The incident which led to his conviction took place in Mitchells Plain on Christmas Day 2010.
According to evidence before the court, Adams was in possession of a loaded revolver which a friend had asked him to keep. He was not well versed in the use of firearms and did not know there was one bullet in the revolver.
He started fooling around with the gun in a street close to where he lives in Mitchells Plain on December 25, 2010.
“I took the revolver out of my pants and and pointed it at the deceased. At the relevant time I was joking around, pretending that I was a tough guy. I said to him that, if I catch him using drugs, I will sort him out,” he said in a statement.
April stretched out his arm and touched the firearm, prompting Adams to pull back.
But the gun went off, hitting him in the chest, killing him.
“I had no intention to kill the deceased but was clearly negligent in my behaviour towards him. I did not foresee that the shot was going to go off but, because of my inexperience with firearms, when he touched the firearm, I moved back and must have accidentally triggered the mechanism and it went off,” he said.
Adams said he panicked and lied to the police about what had happened, telling them it was a drive-by shooting.
However, when the case went to the Mitchells Plain Regional Court he pleaded guilty to culpable homicide, as well as charges of the unlawful possession of a firearm and one round of ammunition.
“I have learnt an extremely hard lesson in trying to show off and trying to fool around,” he told the court.
In November 2012, he was sentenced to five years imprisonment in terms of Section 276(1 )(i) of the Criminal Procedure Act.
For the firearm-related charges, he was also sentenced to six years in jail, four of which were ordered to run concurrently with the culpable homicide sentence.
However, he appealed to the High Court against the sentence imposed.
In a recent judgment, Acting Judge Wilhelm van Staden said Adams expressed remorse and sympathy for the family of the deceased, also offering to pay the funeral expenses.
In addition, he said the evidence established that Adams had the support of his family, neighbours and friends, and that 33 testimonials to his character were handed to the court.
Judge Van Staden said the seriousness of the crime could not be underestimated, but found that the magistrate over-emphasised the seriousness of the possession of the firearm.
He also said the magistrate did not sufficiently take the cumulative effect of the sentences into account.