A love-struck Scotsman described by a friend as “thick as a brick” and unable to swim rode a jet ski across the Irish Sea to spend some time with his girlfriend, according to multiple reports.
Dale McLaughlan, 28, was sentenced to four weeks of jail time on Monday for the bizarre – and incredibly dangerous – 40-km journey on a personal watercraft from Scotland’s Isle of Whithorn to the Isle of Man. He was deemed to have arrived in Douglas, the Isle of Man’s main town, illegally during the coronavirus pandemic.
“The craziest thing is he can’t even swim,” a family source told the U.K.’s Daily Mail, adding that he’s a “nice lad but thick as a brick.”
McLaughlan made the trip – he expected it to take 40 minutes but because of bad weather took four and a half hours – with just 10 minutes of fuel remaining, according to the Isle of Man Today. He had bought the jet ski the day before his trip and towed it more than 100 km from his home in North Ayrshire to the beach at Isle of Whithorn.
After arriving in the harbour at Ramsay, near the northern tip of the island, the roofer walked to his girlfriend’s house in Douglas. Jessica Radcliffe, who met him in September, believed he was in town legally.
McLaughlan’s supporters believe he deserves a medal, not a trip to jail, for successfully navigating his way to the Isle of Man on a jet ski, which he’d never driven before. But Deputy High Bailiff Christopher Arrowsmith argued that the Scot made a “deliberate and intentional attempt to circumnavigate” the island’s COVID-19 restrictions and sent him to the slammer.
McLaughlan, who suffers depression, according to his defence attorney, is also in trouble with his mother for making the trip because he will miss Christmas with his two kids because he is in jail.
“I just don’t know why he did it,” McLaughlan’s mother, Allison told the Daily Mail. “He could have killed himself.”
Radcliffe, a mother of two, will also be forced to isolate alone for two weeks. She was not charged with any crime.
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