An elderly Dublin woman died from hypothermia after suffering a fall and spending an unknown period of time in the driveway of her home in late autumn two years ago, an inquest had heard.

Helen McDonald, 91, was discovered by a neighbour getting up early to go to work on the morning of 2 October 2020 on the ground in their shared driveway at Castle Close, Clondalkin.

Although rushed by ambulance to Tallaght University Hospital, Ms McDonald was pronounced dead a few hours later, with hypothermia given as the cause of death.

The neighbour who discovered Ms McDonald, said he was leaving for work at around 6.30am when something caught his eye on the ground.

Teddy McAuliffe said his elderly neighbour, who was wearing clothes and a jacket, was still breathing and he could hear her groaning.

Mr McAuliffe said his wife brought out a blanket for Ms McDonald to make her comfortable while they were waiting for an ambulance to arrive.

He said he tried to reassure her that "everything was going to be OK".

Mr McAuliffe said he had no information to help indicate how long Ms McDonald might have been lying on the ground outside her home.

The coroner, Aisling Gannon, told a sitting of Dublin District Coroner's Court that a post-mortem had not been able to provide any explanation as to what had caused Ms McDonald to fall.

Ms Gannon said the deceased had not suffered any heart attack or stroke.

"There is no clear explanation why she fell," the coroner observed.

Ms Gannon said there had been some bruising to Ms McDonald’s face, which raised concern about whether it had been caused by a third party.

However, Garda Aideen Cronin, who was in charge of the investigation in Ms McDonald’s death, said gardaí were satisfied there was no foul play or anything suspicious about the matter.

A nurse who attended Ms McDonald in the accident and emergency department of Tallaght University Hospital, Niamh Tedders, said the patient had not been able to recall any events about how she had come to fall outside her home.

Ms Tedders said Ms McDonald had also been unable to speak full sentences.

Medical records showed the patient’s lips were blue when she arrived at the hospital, while her temperature was 26.3ºC.

The inquest heard she suffered a cardiac arrest while being treated in the hospital.

A post-mortem showed Ms McDonald had not suffered from any problems with her chest, stomach or head, while toxicology reports confirmed she had not taken any alcohol.

The post-mortem concluded she had died as a result of hypothermia.

Returning an open verdict, the coroner explained that Ms McDonald had suffered an unwitnessed fall and it was unclear how she had come to be in her driveway and how long she had been lying on the ground before she was found.

Ms Gannon said the evidence was not conclusive to allow the court to make a finding that Ms McDonald had died as a result of an accident or from natural causes.