Ben Goldsmith’s 15-year-old daughter died trying to ‘scare’ friend with quad bike stunt, inquest hears

The teenage daughter of Ben Goldsmith, the financier and environmentalist, was killed as she tried to “scare” her friend while zigzagging an off-road quad vehicle at her family’s farm, an inquest has heard.

Iris Goldsmith died aged 15 in 2019 after losing control of the six-seater Polaris Ranger – nicknamed The Mule.

The teenager, who was taught to ride the vehicle by her father aged just eight, had tried to frighten her friend by zig-zagging across a rough field, Taunton Coroner’s Court heard.

Neither Iris nor her friend were wearing seatbelts at the time of the incident and were flung from the vehicle and landed under its roof.

Iris was pinned to the ground by her neck, the coroner heard, and could not be freed until members of staff from Cannwood Farm, in North Brewham, Somerset, rushed to help.

The Polaris was lifted from her but she was unconscious and had stopped breathing. After 45 minutes of medical help and CPR, she was pronounced dead.

In a statement read to the inquest, Mr Goldsmith described his daughter as a "force of nature" and said "nobody could have stopped her doing what she wanted to do."

He described the tragedy as an "amalgamation of bad luck," but said she was well used to driving the vehicle from a very young age and that he had never seen her do so irresponsibly.

Iris Goldsmith (left), with her sister Eliza Goldsmith

Credit: PA

Coroner Tony Williams recorded a verdict of accidental death after hearing the teenagers were on their way to collect another friend from a neighbouring farm at around 3pm on July 8 2019 when the tragedy occurred.

Iris’s friend was trapped under the vehicle for a time but managed to free herself and alert the family’s gardener as well as 999. 

Later examinations of the vehicle showed it had low front brake pads, worn lower wishbone bushes and under-inflated tyres.

A collision investigator told the inquest it was a combination of a sharp right turn, the vehicle faults and the safety equipment not being used that culminated in Iris’s death.

No criminal charges were brought and the Health and Safety Executive dropped their investigation due to the fact the incident happened during leisure use.

Mr Williams said: "I think it’s fair to say that the various defects to the Polaris Ranger, if considered in isolation, would not have caused the vehicle to overturn.

"Also, Iris may have made the decision to get out of the vehicle as it rolled, which may have contributed to her death. Maybe if she had just held on inside, she wouldn’t have been killed."

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