The Romeo roofer jailed on the Isle of Man for jet-skiing across the Irish Sea from Scotland to see his new sweetheart ‘can’t even swim’ and had less than ten minutes of fuel left when he hit land, MailOnline can reveal today.
Dale McLaughlan’s daring 25-mile trip has also got him in trouble with his mother because he will miss Christmas with his two children in Irvine, North Ayrshire now he is languishing in a Douglas jail for the next four weeks.
His supporters have said he ‘deserves a medal – not prison’ for surviving the four-and-a-half hour journey from the Isle of Whithorn to Ramsay having never been on a jet ski before.
The 28-year-old then walked 15 miles to his girlfriend Jessica Radcliffe’s home on Friday – but he was arrested after being stopped on Saturday night during a night of drinking in Douglas where McLaughlan claimed he lived permanently on the island.
Police arrived at Miss Radcliffe’s house on Sunday and held the roofer after it became clear he actually lived in Scotland and had breached Manx Covid-19 laws. He was jailed on Monday.
A family source has told MailOnline that the self-employed roofer’s intrepid journey by sea is all the more extraordinary because he is a terrible swimmer.
The insider also suggested that he is shocked Mr McLaughlin navigated the Irish Sea, fondly calling him: ‘a nice lad, but thick as a brick’, after it emerged McLaughlan thought the journey would take 40 minutes but in fact it took him almost five hours due to bad weather in the notoriously rough stretch of water. ‘The craziest thing is he can’t even swim’, added the source.
Jessica Radcliffe, who has two school-age daughters, is not in trouble with the law but will now have to spend Christmas in quarantine because of Dale’s exploits.
Dale McLaughlan was seen arriving on the Isle of Man on his jet-ski wearing a Scottish Saltire beanie on Friday. Now he is in prison for a month for breaching strict Manx Covid-19 restrictions
He had towed the jet ski 70 miles from his home in Irvine, Scotland, to the beach on the Isle of Whithorn, where he made the daring crossing to the Isle of Man. Pictured: McLaughlan on the jet ski and right, his girlfriend Jessica Radcliffe
Dale is believed to have two children with his ex-girlfriend Korrin Hastins (pictured together). The roofer’s mother is upset he took the jet-ski trip because he will miss Christmas and could have died
A graphic shows the 25-mile trip Dale McLaughlan made from Scotland to the Isle of Man, breaking coronavirus restrictions, to see his girlfriend.
McLaughlan is believed to have two young children in Scotland with his ex-partner Korrin Hastings.
Timeline: Lovestruck Dale’s 25-mile jet-ski journey that landed him in jail until January
Self-employed roofer Dale McLaughlan (left), of Irvine, Scotland, had met his current girlfriend Jessica Radcliffe (right) in the 1886 bar in Douglas when he was in the island, lawfully, for work purposes.
Friday December 16
After failing to get permission to travel to the Isle of Man to see his lover – he sets off on a jet-ski he ‘saved up to buy’.
After driving 70 miles with the jetski from his home, he set off at 8am from Whithorn, Scotland, arriving in Ramsay, Isle of Man, four-and-a-half hours later. Dale believed he’d do the 25 mile trip in 40 minutes.
Dale then walked the remaining 14 miles from Ramsay to Douglas, arriving in the early evening.
Saturday December 17
The couple went out for drinks, firstly to the 1886 bar – where they first met in September – where they stayed until 11pm and then onto Bordellos where the remained until 1.30am on Sunday.
Police had ‘interacted’ with the defendant on Regent Street in Douglas on the Saturday when the defendant gave his address as his partner’s.
Sunday December 18
Manx police officers arrive at the home of Jessica Radcliffe in Douglas. It becomes clear Dale is from Scotland and he is arrested and taken into custody.
Monday December 19
Dale appears in court from custody. He is jailed for four weeks.
The building contractor’s mother Allison hit the roof yesterday when she learned about his derring-do.
She said: ‘He was supposed to be going over for work but as far as I know they put it off till January 11.
‘I didn’t even know about the jetski. I just don’t know why he did it – he could have killed himself.’
She added: ‘He’ll be missing his kids over Christmas.’
McLaughlan first met his partner 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, McLaughlan tried more than once to go back to the island to see his new girlfriend, but was denied permission by the authorities.
So he bought a jet ski and set off across the Irish Sea, despite the dangers and his lack of experience.
Twitter users have rallied behind the Romeo roofer photographs emerged capturing the moment Dale McLaughlan, 28, arrived on the Isle of Man.
Pictures taken on Friday by local resident Noel Corlett show McLaughlan, who had never operated a jet ski before, arriving at Ramsey Harbour with only minutes of fuel remaining.
Yesterday Mr Corlett, 74, who had been photographing swans at the time, said: ‘I thought it was a bit off but I assumed it was a local riding in on a jet ski.
‘I took a few frames just for fun and didn’t think any more about it until I saw the court case in the news.’
McLaughlan admitted arriving unlawfully, breaching Covid-19 laws that state non-residents can only enter if they are given special permission.
His girlfriend Jessica Radcliffe, who has two school-age daughters, will now have to spend Christmas in quarantine.
Her mother, Jane, told the Mail: ‘She’s in isolation at home so nobody can visit her for the next fortnight. She can’t go out and can’t have visitors.’
McLaughlan, who has two young children, told Douglas Courthouse on Monday that he initially thought his trip would take 40 minutes.
After arriving, he walked 15 miles to surprise Miss Radcliffe and the pair went for a night out in Douglas.
Under the Isle of Man’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 was said to have previously been given permission to work as a roofer on the island for a four-week period in September.
The court was told that his subsequent applications to return were rejected.
Prosecutors said that McLaughlan set off on the 25-mile trip from the Isle of Whithorn, Wigtownshire, around 8.30am on Friday.
Following his arrival in Ramsey around 1pm, he walked 15 miles to his girlfriend’s home in Douglas.
He had towed the jet ski 70 miles from his home in Irvine, Scotland, to the beach on the Isle of Whithorn, where he made the daring crossing to the Isle of Man. Pictured: McLaughlan on the jet ski
Dale McLaughlan, pictured, has been jailed for four weeks after admitting arriving unlawfully on the island to see his sweetheart Jessica
Mr McLaughlan’s jet-ski was left moored on a beach on the island as his court case unfolded – he waled the 14 miles across the island on Friday after abandoning it
Dale McLaughlan was so desperate to see his new love Jessica he bought a jet ski and set off across the Irish Sea, despite the dangers and his lack of experience all because of the Isle of Man’s strict rules on covid
McLaughlan made the dangerous trip to the Isle of Man to visit girlfriend Jessica Radcliffe, pictured
The court heard that the self-employed roofer, of Irvine, Scotland, had met his girlfriend in the 1886 bar in Douglas in September when he was in the island, lawfully, for work purposes.
After travelling back to Scotland he had twice applied for an exemption to travel to the island to see her again, but was turned down on both occasions.
He then took matters in to his own hands.
McLaughlan saved up to buy himself a jet ski, which he did so the day before his trip to the Isle of Man, and then towed it 70 miles from his home to a beach in the Isle of Whithorn.
He set off at about 8am last Friday morning expecting the journey to take 40 minutes.
But due to bad weather he didn’t arrive in Ramsey until about 1pm, prosecutor Rebecca Cubbon told the court.
McLaughlan then followed the road signs to walk to his girlfriend’s home in Anagh Coar.
His partner was unaware of what he had done and believed that he was here for work purposes.
The two of them then went out on the Saturday, firstly to the 1886 bar where they stayed until 11pm and then onto Bordellos where the remained until 1.30am on Sunday.
Jessica Radcliffe, who has two school-age daughters, will now have to spend Christmas in quarantine because of Dale’s exploits
Twitter was generally in favour of the romantic roofer, saying he deserved a medal, or even a knighthood. But one woman from the Isle of Man said he was an ‘idiot,’ for making the trip
The Covid situation on the Isle of Man and its strict rules to keep it out
On the Isle of Man there have been just 373 confirmed Covid-19 cases since March, with four active cases at the moment and none in hospital.
For those on the island, the government has lifted all restrictions on public life.
Its website says: ‘Any legal requirement for social distancing in our community was removed on 15 June.
‘Businesses are no longer legally required to take steps in relation to social distancing, such as encouraging employees to work from home, or limiting the number of customers in shops.’
However, there are still strict border rules, which the government admits are likely to stay in force ‘for some time to come’.
The current ‘Level 4’ system allows those who live on the island to make non-essential journeys beyond, but must self-isolate for 14 days upon returning.
However, those who don’t live on the island must complete a registration form and be granted an entry certificate to be allowed in.
Miss Cubbon said police had ‘interacted’ with the defendant on Regent Street in Douglas on the Saturday when the defendant gave his address as his partner’s.
It was there that police arrested him the following evening.
He told police that he had taken a Covid test four days before he had travelled and it had come back negative.
He said he was prepared to take a second test.
It is understood that, too, has come back negative.
In a statement, the police said: ‘The circumstances have been investigated and Public Health are satisfied there is no wider risk to the public.’
In mitigation, McLaughlan’s advocate told the court that his client suffered from depression and was not coping with being unable to see his partner.
Defence advocate Deborah Myerscough said her client had put himself at risk travelling on a jet ski in the Irish Sea ‘something even in the middle of summer most people would never contemplate’.
She said this indicated his state of mind, adding: ‘Clearly he has some mental health issues.’
Deputy High Bailiff Christopher Arrowsmith said the Scot made a ‘deliberate and intentional attempt to circumnavigate’ the border restrictions, potentially putting the community at risk.
The court heard that the pair had met in September when McLaughlan was working on the Isle of Man. According to social media, they became romantically involved the following month.
Under Isle of Man laws, anyone serving a prison sentence of less than four years is released after half that term. But McLaughlan is set to spend Christmas inside a prison cell on the island.
Mr Quayle, who heads the Isle of Man Government, said the prison sentence ‘sends a strong signal’ to anyone else who might consider showing such ‘flagrant disregard’ for the law.
After the four-and-a-half-hour journey, he arrived at Ramsey harbour, pictured, on Friday
He told the BBC that he was ‘astonished’ by the ‘incredibly reckless, dangerous endeavour’ of McLaughlan, which could have led to ‘others being called upon to risk their lives in a search and rescue operation’.
A spokesman for HM Coastguard said: ‘Jet skis fall outside of the Maritime & Coastguard Agency’s licensing powers and abilities to detain or prosecute.
‘However, as a general rule, we advise people using jet skis to always operate your vessel within the limits of your, and your vessel’s, capabilities.’