Man Who Jet-Skied 4.5 Hours Across Irish Sea to Visit Girlfriend Jailed for Violating Covid Rules

·3 min read

Scotsman Dale McLaughlan found himself in hot water after illegally crossing a frigid sea.

The construction worker is currently in jail on the Isle of Man, having risked his life by jet skiing across the wild Irish Sea to meet his girlfriend for a romantic date.

The journey, which McLaughlan originally thought would last just 40 minutes, took around 4.5 hours from the shores of Scotland and sparked a major search and rescue alert along the west coast of Great Britain.

More importantly, it also landed McLaughlan with a four-week jail sentence for breaking the Isle of Man’s strict COVID-19 restrictions regarding visitors to the island nation located between Ireland and the U.K.

"The Isle of Man is in a very different situation to the United Kingdom and many other counties in relation to coronavirus," Isle of Man chief minister Howard Quayle says in a statement.

"Our community has worked together to contain and eliminate the virus to protect those most vulnerable to COVID-19. So I was astonished to learn that someone had traveled from the United Kingdom to the Isle of Man by jet ski at the weekend, breaching our border restrictions."

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"On the Isle of Man, we’re all for ingenuity," Quayle continues. "Unfortunately, this was an incredibly reckless, dangerous endeavor, which could have ended very differently given the time of year."

McLaughlan's trip across the narrow body of water started on Dec.11, when the 28-year-old drove 70 miles from his home in North Ayrshire and set sail from the Isle of Whithorn on Scotland's west coast at around 8 am.

According to a report from the Isle of Man police, he had only purchased the jet kki the previous day and "had no experience of riding jet skis." The Scottish Sun also reports that McLaughlan also doesn't know how to swim.

Despite this, he managed to land in the town of Ramsey on the northeast coast of the Isle of Man at around 1 pm — with only 10 minutes of fuel left in his tank.

He then set off on foot and walked 12 miles to the island's capital, Douglas, and knocked on the door of his girlfriend Jessica Radcliffe's home. The couple had met in September while he was legally working on the island as a roofer.

The police report states that Radcliffe was totally unaware that McLaughlan had risked life to meet her, and the couple enjoyed a date at the 1886 Bar & Grill and the Bordello Wine Bar in Douglas until around 1:30 am on Dec. 13.

It was at this stage, however, that local law enforcement caught up with him. Before he left the U.K. mainland, McLaughlan had filled out a route planner for the coast guard. When he didn't return as scheduled the U.K. authorities alerted search and rescue and filed a missing person's notice to local police forces.

This included the Isle of Man Constabulary who were alerted to the presence of their new arrival. On the evening of Dec. 13, around 16 hours after he'd left the wine bar, McLaughlan was arrested.

After confessing his plan to illegally travel to the country, he was charged with one count of breaching the island's COVID regulations and sentenced to four weeks in jail.

"Restrictions are in place at the Island’s borders to prevent the spread of the virus," adds Quayle in the release. " This individual arrived on the Island with no exemption notice or entry permit and failed to declare their arrival or to self-isolate."

"This individual was aware of the law and showed a flagrant disregard when they chose to break it, mixing in the community and potentially putting lives at risk."

He continues, "I hope this sends a strong signal to others who do not take our laws seriously or who are mistaken in thinking that the rules do not apply to them."