By Shemuel FanfairFormer Guyana Defence Force (GDF) member Alistair Woolford, who is on trial for killing his friend Devon Howell, told the court on Wednesday that when he shot the former Kitty, Georgetown resident he was only joking around, as he trusted that his squaddie, Jonathon Williams, would not have given him a firearm with live rounds inside. Woolford’s address, which was made via an unsworn statement, followed the prosecution’s closing the State’s case after several witnesses had taken the stand.Woolford is facing a manslaughter charge. The prosecution is contending that he discharged a loaded firearm at Howell with intent to murder him. Howell was shot on November 21, 2014 at D’Andrade Street, Kitty, Georgetown. He was hospitalised after the incident, but succumbed to his injuries three weeks later, on December 8, 2014.During his address on Wednesday, Woolford displayed a calm demeanour and bowed his head slightly as he related that when he pointed the firearm and squeezed the trigger on that day, he never meant to kill Howell.“I had no intention of harming him in any way. I was only joking around,” he said.He also expressed that he sincerely believed the firearm, which was a 9mm silver GDF service pistol, was empty.“I honestly trusted my squaddie John that I didn’t check the firearm. I trusted him so much that I didn’t know that he would have handed me a loaded weapon,” Woolford stated before taking his seat.His lawyer, Compton Richardson, opted to call no witness for the defence, but he however stressed in his closing address to the jury that it was the prosecution which had the burden to prove its case against the accused. Nevertheless, he impressed upon the 12 jurors that if they believe that his client’s actions were accidental, they must find him not guilty.“It was a tragic mistake made by this accused; they were very good friends,” attorney Richardson highlighted.Meanwhile, Prosecutor Mandell Moore, who addressed the jury immediately after, observed that Woolford was “joking around with someone’s life”. He reminded that panel that the gun which he fired had 10 rounds, and 9 rounds remained after he fired at Howell.“Defence counsel spoke about this case being a tragedy, but a tragedy for whom? This accused is alive and well; Devon Howell is dead,” Moore noted.Following the conclusion of closing addresses, Justice Sandil Kissoon, who is presiding over the case, adjourned the matter to Monday for summing up and deliberation, when the jury will decide on innocence or guilt.Government Pathologist Dr Nehaul Singh earlier gave the cause of death as ‘respiratory failure’ as a result of fractures to the spine. He witnessed a circular wound to the right neck. He said that he saw wounds to the front and back of the neck.It was only Tuesday that recent and former GDF ranks identified the sliver service pistol which was used to shoot Howell, who had worked as an electrician. The weapon was handed over to Woolford’s colleague Jonathon Williams at the Army’s Camp Ayanganna headquarters.Jonathon Williams, the weapon holder, testified that he had left the gun on top of a refrigerator as he went to use Woolford’s washroom. Another friend, Daniel Fletchman, recalled on Monday that he had witnessed Woolford point the gun towards Howell, and that Howell had spun around before falling to the ground.Howell reportedly received injuries to his upper spinal cord, and died without regaining consciousness. Woolford is represented by attorneys Compton Richardson and Hewley Griffith. Attorneys Mandel Moore and Abigail Gibbs are prosecuting the case.