Lovesick man who rode jet ski across Irish Sea to see girlfriend broke COVID rules ‘for the woman I love’

Andy Wells
·Freelance Writer
·3-min read

Watch: Lovesick man who rode jet ski to see girlfriend broke rules ‘for the woman I love’

A lovesick man who flouted COVID restrictions by crossing the Irish Sea by jet ski to see his girlfriend has said he was prepared to risk his life for love.

Dale McLaughlan, 28, was jailed last month for breaching the coronavirus rules after making a treacherous 25-mile voyage from Scotland to the Isle of Man in a desperate effort to see his new partner Jessica Radcliffe, 30.

The self-employed roofer hit it off with Radcliffe in September while he was on the island working, for which he was given a travel exemption.

But after returning home, he set off on a four-and-a-half hour trip to visit her despite never having ridden a water scooter before and being unable to swim.

Dale McLaughlan boarding a ferry back home after he rode a jet ski across the Irish Sea to see his girlfriend. (SWNS)
Dale McLaughlan boarding a ferry back home after he rode a jet ski across the Irish Sea to see his girlfriend. (SWNS)

McLaughlan said today that he tried to get to the island by legal means but felt he “had to take matters into my own hands”.

He told Good Morning Britain: “I applied to go legally and they said no.

“I pleaded with them that I would do anything possible that was required of me – whether that be extended isolation, any COVID test – and I didn't even get a reply in an email.

“And at that point I said: ‘I’ve got to take matters into my own hands.’

“Everybody else is breaking [COVID rules] for terrible reasons – wanting to go out drinking, partying. I wanted to do it for personal ones.”

McLaughlan said he fell for Radcliffe shortly after meeting her at a pub, telling GMB he thought she was “beautiful”.

He added: “A couple of days later we met again and decided to spend the rest of the week together and to get to know each other.

Dale McLaughlan met girlfriend Jessica Radcliffe in September. (ITV/Good Morning Britain)
Dale McLaughlan met girlfriend Jessica Radcliffe in September. (ITV/Good Morning Britain)

“That day when I had to get back on the ferry was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do.”

When asked if he was prepare to “risk his life for love”, McLaughlan replied: “Yes.”

A court heard McLaughlan had saved up to buy the jet ski and towed it 70 miles from his home in Irvine, North Ayrshire, to a beach on the Isle of Whithorn.

Dale McLaughlan was pictured boarding a ferry back home after he was released from jail. (Getty)
Dale McLaughlan was pictured boarding a ferry back home after he was released from jail. (Getty)

He had expected the 25-mile trip to take 40 minutes but due to bad weather it took him four and a half hours.

There was just 10 minutes of fuel left in the tank when he arrived in Ramsey harbour, a police source said.

He and Radcliffe went out to two Douglas nightspots the evening after he turned up at her door. He was arrested at her home in Anagh Coar the following day.

Dale McLaughlan said he was prepared to risk his life to visit his new girlfriend. (SWNS)
Dale McLaughlan said he was prepared to risk his life to visit his new girlfriend. (SWNS)

Radcliffe told GMB she felt “overwhelmed” by McLaughlan’s actions and plans to continue their relationship.

She added: “How can I deny someone coming over on a jet ski across the Irish Sea and turn it down or not try or hold on? I've just got to hold on haven't I?”

McLaughlan was released from jail last month, having served half of his four-week sentence.

His defence argued he suffered from depression and was struggling being unable to see his partner.

Watch: What you can and can't do during England's third national lockdown