A MAN who was jailed for crossing the Irish Sea on a jet ski has “no regrets” about risking life and limb to see a girl he had met only a few weeks previously.
Roofer Dale McLaughlan, 28, who lives in Irvine, Scotland, shelled out £5,500 on a jet ski to surprise girlfriend Jessica Radcliffe at her home on the Isle of Man.
Dale and Jessica had only been dating for a few weeks but he was determined to surprise her with Christmas presents despite never having sat on a jet ski before.
He set off early on December 11, having calculated that he would take him just 45 minutes to reach his destination on the 52mph machine.
Instead, he found himself battered by six-foot-high waves during a nightmare four-and-a-half-hour journey that nearly cost him his life.
“As soon as I hit open water I thought ‘Oh my God’. It was like getting a kick in the teeth," he told the Sunday Mirror.
“It was terrible. It wasn’t fun.
"I followed the GPS, but after half an hour a massive wave wiped it away.
"I didn’t have a clue where I was going.”
Dale had been expecting calm waters when he first set off.
Instead, he found himself being bashed from pillar to post by giant waves, all while holding on to the jet ski for dear life with one thought in his mind.
“The water was black and was getting in my eyes and mouth. But the thought of Jessica kept me driving on," he said.
By the time he arrived in Ramsey Harbour he had just 10 minutes of fuel left having veered dangerously off course after his GPS system was swept into the Irish Sea by the pounding waves.
Even then he faced a 15 mile walk to reach Jessica’s home, having arrived at the wrong side of the island.
Worse still for Dale, he had been photographed arriving meaning the authorities were already on his tail.
Fortunately, he still found time to make the final leg of his pilgrimage, listening to a playlist of power ballads as he made his way to Jessica’s house.
Their happy reunion was cut short, however, after Dale was arrested.
Under the Covid-19 rules in place on the Isle of Man, non-residents need to request permission to visit.
Dale had applied for a licence on compassionate grounds but was rejected.
Though the penalty of breaking the rules is a three-month prison sentence and £10,000 fine, Dale was set home for Christmas after just eight days behind bars.
His efforts were not entirely in vain either – Dale plans to ask Jessica to marry him and she is planning on saying yes.
Unfortunately he has now been banned from visiting the Isle of Man again.
"I broke the law. But I did it for love," he told the Sunday Mirror.
"I wouldn’t say I regret it, but I’m sorry for whatever stress I’ve caused. I should never have done it. It could be called a crime of passion.”