A verdict of unlawful death has been returned by the jury at the inquest into the death of a convicted drug dealer who was shot dead in front of his partner and her two young children in Cork six years ago.

At the Coroner's Court in Cork, Gerard 'Topper' Staunton's partner Karen Quilligan O'Flynn recalled how the masked gunman had calmly stood with his feet apart, with the gun held at the base into his stomach, before shooting 41-year-old Staunton twice with a sawnoff shotgun.

Ms Quilligan O'Flynn said Staunton had just put her seven-year-old daughter into the back seat of his car, and she was carrying her two-year-old daughter, when he was shot.

We need your consent to load this rte-player contentWe use rte-player to manage extra content that can set cookies on your device and collect data about your activity. Please review their details and accept them to load the content.Manage Preferences

She told the court that to the best of her knowledge Staunton was not in fear of anyone or in dispute with anyone at that time and added that she did not think he owed anyone any money, or that anyone owed him any substantial amount of money.

Superintendent Charles Barry, who previously described the murder as cold, calculated and well planned, said 60 gardaí worked on the investigation, over 600 statements were taken, CCTV footage was obtained from 180 premises, and 14 searches were carried out in. 

While seven arrests were made, no one has been charged with Staunton's murder and the file remains open.

In the aftermath of the murder, a group calling itself the Real IRA claimed responsibility for the shooting saying Staunton's murder was not a one-off, but a warning to other drug dealers that they would share the same fate if they did not stop dealing drugs in working-class communities in the city. 

However, gardaí believed the group was using threats to extort money from drug dealers.

Coroner Philip Comyn extended his deepest sympathies to Ms Quilligan O'Flynn on the brutal and unlawful killing of her partner in front of her children. 

He also extended his sympathies to the Staunton family, in particular Gerard Senior, who he said very clearly had a close bond with his son.