The girlfriend of a lovesick dad jailed for crossing the Irish Sea on a jet ski to see her has called him “my hero”.
Dale McLaughlan made the treacherous 25-mile ‘voyage’ from Scotland to the Isle of Man last Friday from dawn to see partner Jessica Radcliffe.
The roofer spent four-and-a-half hours battling the rough seas and sparked a major Coastguard search in the daredevil bid to visit his partner of three months.
Jessica, 30, has begged the authorities to free her man – locked up for a month for breaching Covid rules – in time for Christmas.
The mum-of-two told the Daily Mail: “What man crosses the sea for a girl unless he was so besotted and completely in love?
“I’m sure it will calm down. I had a man cross the Irish Sea for me on a jet ski. I don’t [know] one other woman that can say that. He must really love me. My little legend.”
Former coastguard Alan McGhie saw Dale preparing to set out from a remote harbour on the Isle of Whithorn, Dumfries and Galloway, telling him he was just giving the jet ski a run out before selling it.
The 28-year-old, who has two young children from a previous relationship, had never used a jet ski before and can barely swim, yet was setting out into waters local fishermen had opted against venturing into that day.
He had driven 75 miles on single track forest roads from his home in Irvine, North Ayrshire, in order to set out from Scotland’s closest point to the Isle of Man.
His car and trailer used to transport the trailer to the harbour were left just off the slipway, leading to Coastguard teams fearing the worst.
By the time the search began, Dale had already touched down in Ramsey harbour with only a few minutes of fuel remaining in the tank.
Mr McGhie told the Mail: “What he did was crazy. It’s mad enough to go out to sea on a jet ski at this time of year, let alone to go so far out.”
Dale was arrested by Manx police on Sunday for entering the island without a permit, an offence introduced as part of anti-virus restrictions.
And despite testing negative for coronavirus, he was jailed on Monday at Douglas Courthouse.
Dale and Jessica first met on a night out in September while the roofer was doing some work on the island, having been granted temporary legal permission to work on the island.
Coronavirus lockdown rules explained
In the time since, he had attempted multiple times to gain an extension but was denied before purchasing a jet ski.
Anyone breaching the island’s rules faces a maximum of 12 weeks in prison or up to a £10,000 fine.
Prior to Dale’s arrest, the pair went on a night out to Douglas, with the flouter telling police who stopped him on the street he lived permanently at Jessica’s address.