An inquest jury has returned an open verdict in relation to the death of a 59-year-old father of two from Co Clare, after the pathologist who conducted the post-mortem examination on the man's body said head injuries which he sustained could not simply be explained by a fall, as had been relayed to her.
Dr Margot Bolster was giving evidence at the inquest into the death of Gerard "Jack" Tubridy of Clohanmore, Cree, Co Clare.
Mr Tubridy sustained injuries to his right temple and his left eye.
Dr Bolster told the inquest there were two points of impact, and she could not reconcile how both could have been caused by one fall.
She said her post-mortem could not rule out Mr Tubridy receiving injuries from a blow.
She also agreed with Coroner Philip Comyn that "some degree of acceleration" or some accelerating force had also been present.
Dr Bolster said she was satisfied that Mr Tubridy had fallen, but she said her post-mortem could not answer what caused the fall.
The inquest, at Cork City Coroner's Court, was told that Mr Tubridy had been drinking at Walsh's Bar in the village of Cree on St Patrick's night, 2017, and friends and neighbours offered him a lift home after he was found asleep in the smoking area in the early hours of the following morning.
Mr Tubridy got into a car with his first cousin, Noel Kelly, and with friends, husband-and-wife Martin and Angela Crowley, Martin's sister, Teresa Scanlon, and his son, Fergal.
All had been drinking in Walsh's Bar, apart from Fergal Crowley who arrived to drive them home from the bar in the early hours of the morning.
Noel Kelly said everybody in the car was a friend of Jack's, and nobody touched him that night.
Martin Crowley said that after Mr Tubridy was dropped off near his mother's house, something caught his attention.
He got out of the front passenger seat of the car and noticed Mr Tubridy lying on his back behind the car.
Mr Crowley rang for an ambulance and told the controller that Mr Tubridy had been hit by a fist.
However, in a later statement to gardaí, he said he did not know why he said that.
Fergal Crowley told the inquest he saw Mr Tubridy reach into the car and hit Mr Kelly with his fist.
He said there was an altercation between the two men, an "interaction", which was over as fast as it began.
Mr Kelly described no such altercation in his evidence or in statements he gave to investigating gardaí.
Mr Tubridy was conscious when he was taken to University Hospital Limerick by ambulance.
However, his condition deteriorated and staff at the Emergency Department there contacted gardaí later that morning and asked them to get in touch with his family.
Mr Tubridy died at Cork University Hospital on 20 March from brain swelling and contusion.
Detective Sergeant Padraig Frawley told the inquest that gardaí established an incident room under Superintendent John Galvin at Kilrush Garda Station, after they received preliminary results of Dr Bolster's post-mortem examination.
A file on the case had been sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions, but there was no prosecution.
After the jury returned its verdict, Mr Comyn said there was little he could say to his family by way of consolation, except that Mr Tubridy would have died without pain.