Inquest: UCS Hampstead schoolboy hit tree and died in horse riding accident at polo club
PUBLISHED: 09:00 18 April 2015 | UPDATED: 10:56 20 April 2015
An 11-year-old Hampstead schoolboy died of severe head injuries after hitting a tree in a horse riding accident, a coroner has ruled.
University College School (UCS) pupil Medi Mehra died on July 15 last year after he fell off a horse and hit his head at a polo club in Oxfordshire. He died at the scene despite wearing a riding helmet.
Medi, of Maida Vale, lost control of the horse he was riding without stirrups when it cantered while he was also controlling another horse on a rope, known as leading.
Oxfordshire coroner Darren Salter ruled his death was an accident, and said: “It was apparent Medi was a relative beginner in terms of riding ability. I do think there was a significant increase in the risk by having Medi leading a horse with no stirrups.”
The court heard that Medi’s father, Mehdi Mehra, asked friend and professional polo player Pedro Harrison to look after Medi and have him work in the stables at the club for a few days.
Mr Harrison’s groom William Newman was the only adult with Medi when he died.
He was riding one horse and leading four others at the time.
Mr Newman told Oxfordshire Coroner’s Court: “Medi seemed quite confident on a horse, he seemed happy. I thought I’d push him a bit more and told him to take his stirrups up and have a canter.
“But then there was a gradual increase in speed as Medi lost control, and I quickly lost sight of him over the crest of the hill.”
Mr Harrison, who was in his yard at the time, said: “I heard Medi scream.
“I looked up and saw him riding past on the grass, still leading the horse, and going very fast. I got in my car immediately and went after them.
“When I found Medi he was lying by the tree and had blood coming from his nose and ears.”
Mr Newman told the court: “I obviously over-estimated his riding ability and hugely underestimated the horse’s quietness. It’s something I regret hugely.”
Before Medi died, his mother Mary-Anne Bowring had specifically chosen an older horse called Rubia for Medi to ride on.
But on the day he died, he was riding another horse.
She said “there was no way in hell” she would have left Medi stay with Mr Harrison if she knew he would ride a different horse.
But Mr Harrison said Mr Mehra had told him to give Medi “whatever horse I thought was suitable.”
Mr Salter told the court: “This is obviously the most awful tragedy, an accident.”
His parents, who run Kentish Town property firm Ringley Group, have set up charity the MediOliver Foundation in his memory to raise money for impoverished children in Ethiopia.
Last month, they helped launch a new school football tournament in sports-mad Medi’s name at all-boys UCS for pupils under nine.
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