The bullet that killed a Kinahan cartel criminal believed to have been behind the murders of several innocent men was never found, an inquest into his death has heard.
Glen Clarke (26), of Dunard Drive, Cabra, Dublin 7, was found unconscious in a car in a Leixlip housing estate on December 2, 2016, at the height of the Hutch-Kinahan feud.
Gardai suspect the single gunshot wound that killed him was discharged accidentally by his own hand. However, relatives told his inquest at Dublin Coroner's Court that they do not believe he killed himself.
Passers-by found Clarke in a stolen car parked with the engine running in the Riverdale estate, Leixlip, Co Kildare, at 1.30am on December 2, 2016.
The bungling hitman was a suspect for the feud murders of innocent men Martin O'Rourke (24), who was shot dead in Sheriff Street in April 2016, and Trevor O'Neill (40) in Majorca in August of that year.
The Herald previously revealed that gardai had also identified Clarke as the gunman who killed Dean Johnson in 2013 in Clondalkin. All three were cases of mistaken identity.
Yesterday's inquest heard how Eoin Spillane was walking by with a friend when he noticed the parked car.
"The lights were off and the engine was running. The man was sitting up straight with his head tilted slightly to the left. He was wearing a snood or a scarf pulled up over his nose," Mr Spillane said.
He said the man was struggling to breathe and he phoned emergency services.
Clarke was rushed to Connolly Hospital in Blanchardstown where he was pronounced dead at 3.42pm the same day.
Detective Superintendent Frank Keenaghan said Clarke left his home at 6.47pm on December 1, 2016, wearing a baseball cap and dark jacket.
The stolen car he was travelling in alone passed the M50 toll at 7.01pm. A witness in Leixlip saw the parked car with the engine running at 8.15pm.
From the public gallery, family members asked why the bullet was never recovered, stating that Clarke would not have taken his own life.
"In the aftermath, we tore every seat, panel and mat apart. The car was destroyed in the search for this piece of lead," Det Supt Keenaghan said.
"My best guess is it was taken away in the man's clothes as he was transferred to hospital."
The court heard that Clarke was wearing gloves and may have accidentally fatally wounded himself while looking down the barrel of the gun.
A 'burner' Nokia phone was found in the driver's footwell.
A post-mortem gave the cause of death as massive intracranial damage due to a bullet wound with evidence of recent cocaine use.
Coroner Dr Myra Cullinane returned an open verdict, reflecting the lack of evidence available for a suicide or misadventure verdict, and extended her condolences to the family.