‘I did it for love’: ‘Jetski Romeo’ who was jailed for breaking Covid rules after dashing across the Irish Sea to see his girlfriend says he felt like a ‘c***py James Bond’
- Dale McLaughlan, 28, made the 25-mile journey to the Isle of Man last month
- It was first time he set foot on jetski and he thought it would take 45 minutes
- McLaughlan lost his marine GPS device in a huge wave leaving him lost at sea
A lovesick Romeo roofer who was jailed for breaking Covid restrictions after crossing the Irish Sea on a jetski to see his girlfriend told how he felt like a ‘c***py James Bond’ after his reckless journey nearly ended in disaster.
Dale McLaughlan, 28, made the 25-mile journey from Scotland to the Isle of Man to visit his girlfriend Jessica Radcliffe, 30, last month.
The journey was the first time McLaughlan had ever set foot on a jetski – and he thought it would only take 45 minutes.
But the journey ended up being four hours long after McLaughlan – who had a negative Covid test result before leaving – lost his £100 marine GPS device in a huge wave.
McLaughlan was arrested and sentenced to four weeks in jail for breaking anti-Covid rules – but was released and sent back to Scotland before Christmas.
Dale McLaughlan, 28, (pictured) who was jailed for breaking Covid restrictions after crossing the Irish Sea on a jetski to see his girlfriend, told how he felt like a ‘c***py James Bond’ after his reckless journey nearly ended in disaster
McLaughlan made the 25-mile journey from Scotland to the Isle of Man to visit his girlfriend Jessica Radcliffe, 30, (pictured together) last month
The journey was the first time McLaughlan (pictured during the journey) had ever set foot on a jetski – and he thought it would only take 45 minutes
He told The Sunday Mirror: ‘As soon as I hit open water I thought “Oh my God”. It was like getting a kick in the teeth.’
He kept the rising sun in the east over his left shoulder to make sure he stayed on track – but was battered by 6ft waves, near-freezing rain and fog.
McLaughlan said he thought of mother-of-two Ms Radcliffe (pictured) – who he met on a night out in September – to keep him going
He said he thought of mother-of-two Ms Radcliffe – who he met on a night out in September – to keep him going.
McLaughlan – who himself has two children from a previous relationship – also listened to love ballads to pull him through, ironically including Love Is All Around by Wet Wet Wet.
He arrived in a town 15 miles away from Ms Radcliffe and made the journey to her house on foot.
McLaughlan first met Ms Radcliffe on a night out in September after he was granted permission to legally spend four weeks working on the island, which has enforced strict border rules during the pandemic.
After returning to the mainland, he tried more than once to return to the Isle of Man to see his new girlfriend, but was denied permission by the authorities.
Under the island’s emergency coronavirus laws, anyone breaching the rules faces a maximum of three months behind bars or a fine of up to £10,000.
McLaughlan then carried out his plan to buy a jet ski and set off across the Irish Sea on December 11, despite the dangers and his lack of experience.
He went out with Ms Radcliffe to two bars in Douglas on the Friday night until 1.30am on the Sunday.
This map shows the 25-mile trip McLaughlan made from Scotland to the Isle of Man last month
Dale McLaughlan, pictured, was jailed for four weeks after admitting arriving unlawfully on the island to see his sweetheart Ms Radcliffe
McLoughlan had driven 75 miles through the night on single track forest roads from his home in Irvine, North Ayrshire, to reach Whithorn (above), Scotland’s closest point to the Isle of Man
When a coastguard saw McLaughlan launch his jet ski from the slipway (above) he jokingly said, ‘Are you going to the Isle of Man?’
When he was questioned by police in the street, he gave his address as her home and claimed he lived permanently on the island.
He was arrested at Ms Radcliffe’s house on December 13. Ms Radcliffe has not been accused of any criminal offence, but had to quarantine herself for two weeks at home.
McLaughlan was handed a four-week jail sentence at Douglas Courthouse for breaching anti-Covid rules – but was released in time for Christmas and sent back to Scotland.