Girlfriend of Romeo jet skier who crossed Irish Sea breaks silence to call him ‘a legend’

Jessica Radcliffe (pictured) says she wants boyfriend Dale McLaughlan freed from jail

Jessica Radcliffe (pictured) says she wants boyfriend Dale McLaughlan freed from jail

The girlfriend of a lovesick Romeo who got thrown in prison for crossing the treacherous Irish Sea on a jet ski just to see her broke her silence today to say: ‘He’s my hero’.

Loved-up roofer Dale McLaughlan made the 25-mile journey from Scotland to the Isle of Man to visit his sweetheart last Friday – spending four and a half hours at sea.

In an exclusive interview with MailOnline, his girlfriend Jessica Radcliffe, 30, said: ‘He is the best and everyone is right behind him, especially me… my hero.’

‘What man crosses the sea for a girl unless he was so besotted and completely in love?

Speaking as she begged the authorities to free him from jail in time for Christmas, the mother-of-two said: ‘I just want them to release him from prison. At least let him stay over here.

‘He is locked up for 14 days even though he is covid free.’

She added: ‘I’m sure it will calm down. I had a man cross the Irish Sea for me on a jet ski. I don’t (think) one other women that can say that. He must really love me. My little legend.’

McLaughlan’s foolhardy plan to join his girlfriend of three months on the Isle of Man sparked a major Coastguard search, MailOnline can reveal.

He was spotted by a villager as he prepared to set off at dawn last Friday from a remote Scottish harbour, and claimed that he just wanted to make sure his jet ski was working properly before he sold it.

The 28-year-old roofer was sentenced to a month in prison for his foolhardy jet ski trip over the North Sea

McLaughlin (above) met Jessica while working as a roofer on the island and wanted to see her again

The 28-year-old roofer was sentenced to a month in prison for his foolhardy jet ski trip across the North Sea from Scotland to the Isle of Man to visit his lover, mother-of-two Jessica

Mclaughlan (pictured on his jet ski) sparked a coastguard search and rescue when he set off on his 25-mile journey on the Isle of Whithorn, Dumfries and Galloway last Friday morning

Mclaughlan (pictured on his jet ski) sparked a coastguard search and rescue when he set off on his 25-mile journey on the Isle of Whithorn, Dumfries and Galloway last Friday morning

McLaughlan's jet ski was left on the beach at Ramsey harbour, Isle of Man after completing his  four hour journey, which he thought would take 40 minutes, with only ten minutes of fuel left

 McLaughlan’s jet ski was left on the beach at Ramsey harbour, Isle of Man after completing his  four hour journey, which he thought would take 40 minutes, with only ten minutes of fuel left

This map shows the 25-mile trip McLaughlan made from Scotland to the Isle of Man on Friday

This map shows the 25-mile trip McLaughlan made from Scotland to the Isle of Man on Friday

In reality he was preparing to ride through rough seas to see Jessica after he was banned from entering the island due to anti-coronavirus regulations.

The alarm was raised after McLaughlan who can hardly swim failed to return to his car and jet ski trailer left near the harbour slipway in the Isle of Whithorn, Dumfries and Galloway.

Coastguard teams who found his car searched for him amid fears he had drowned at sea in conditions so rough that even local fishermen had decided not to venture out.

The search started at around the time he arrived in Ramsey harbour on the Isle of Man after completing his amazing four hour trip with only ten minutes of fuel left.

Coastguards only called off their hunt for him after they managed to contact him on his mobile phone and he assured them he was safe.

It is believed that he failed to tell them that he had just landed in the Isle of Man, and they assumed he was still in Scotland.

McLaughlan, pictured, has been jailed for four weeks after admitting arriving unlawfully on the island

Jessica told MailOnline that she can't wait for her 'hero' to be released from prison and that they are in love

Dale McLaughlan, pictured, has been jailed for four weeks after admitting arriving unlawfully on the island to see his sweetheart Jessica

But his weekend of romance ended when he was arrested by Manx police after he was found to have entered the island without a permit.

He was jailed for four weeks at Douglas Courthouse on Monday for breaching anti-Covid rules, even though tests proved he did not have coronavirus.

Social media users have praised McLaughlan for his romantic but foolhardy gesture which put his life at risk.

Former coastguard Alan McGhie, 63, of the Isle of Whithorn said he went out to walk his dog and saw McLaughlan in the darkness at around 7am last Friday.

The chance encounter happened after McLoughlan had driven 75 miles through the night on single track forest roads from his home in Irvine, North Ayrshire, to reach the village which is Scotland’s closest point to the Isle of Man.

McLoughlan had driven 75 miles through the night on single track forest roads from his home in Irvine, North Ayrshire, to reach Whithorn (above), Scotland's closest point to the Isle of Man

McLoughlan had driven 75 miles through the night on single track forest roads from his home in Irvine, North Ayrshire, to reach Whithorn (above), Scotland’s closest point to the Isle of Man

When a coastguard saw McLaughlan launch his jet ski from the slipway (above) he jokingly said, 'Are you going to the Isle of Man?'

When a coastguard saw McLaughlan launch his jet ski from the slipway (above) he jokingly said, ‘Are you going to the Isle of Man?’

Police officers pictured at the car next to the slipway at the Isle of Whithorn on the Scottish mainland where Mclaughlan left his car and trailer before he began his fateful journey

Police officers pictured at the car next to the slipway at the Isle of Whithorn on the Scottish mainland where Mclaughlan left his car and trailer before he began his fateful journey

Mr McGhie said: ‘He was sitting with the jet ski on the trailer attached to his car. I then took my dog up the cairn and when I was coming back, he was he walking over to the slipway. ‘I stopped and put my window down, and I jokingly said, ‘Are you going to the Isle of Man?’

He replied, ‘Oh no, there’s no way, that’s at the bottom end of the Irish Sea’. ‘He said that he was just testing it out because he was selling it to some other guy and wanted to check it was running OK.

‘His car was parked near some bins in the car park. The jet ski was still on the trailer because he said he was waiting until daylight to put it in the water and test it. ‘I said he would be OK in the bay, but to watch for the lobster creels (lobster pots) in the water.

‘He told me he had a couple of kids and he didn’t have a much time to use it. He said, ‘I don’t use it, and my wife has been on at me to sell it. We’ll probably use the money for a holiday next year.’

‘He told he was from Ayrshire and that he was selling the jet ski to someone in Dumfries.

‘I thought it was a bit suspicious because why would you come all the way from Ayrshire to test it here.

‘I saw the Coastguard boys later when I was out in the afternoon and they said they had been looking for a guy on a jet ski who was missing.

‘I told them I had seen him in this morning going out to just test to it. They said they had managed to get him on the phone and he had told them a different story.

‘He said that he was OK but he didn’t let on where he was because obviously he was not allowed to be on the Isle of Man.

‘I was wondering at the time whether he had been doing a drugs run or something like that because you hear about people taking thigs across – but it turned out he was lovesick.

Dale has two children with his childhood sweetheart Korrin Hastings (pictured together)

Dale has two children with his childhood sweetheart Korrin Hastings (pictured together)

‘Someone must have reported him missing. I’m guessing it may have been a friend ‘His brother-in-law came down with a transporter a day or so ago and took the car away. I spoke to him briefly, and I said, ‘It looks like he is getting his chicken dinner in jail on the Isle of Man this year.’

Mr McGhie who is an electrician, added: ‘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.

‘If he had broken down out there, he could easily have been lost at sea. These jet skis are not that stable when the sea is rough.

‘The sea can be calm here, but you can go two or three miles out and it is rough and choppy. It’s 20 odd miles and there are strong tides. It’s not a nice bit of water.’ John

McGuire, 39, a fisherman from Isle of McGuire, said: ‘I knew the weather was going to be bad last Friday so I did not go out to sea.

‘It was not too bad early in the morning, but then the sea got really rough and there was heavy rain.

‘He was really stupid setting out in those conditions. He definitely put his own life at risk and caused a needless search for him. He also broke Covid rules by coming down here.

‘I saw the Coastguards when they were out looking for him, and they asked if I had seen him, but I could not help.’

McLaughlan first met Jessica on a night out in September after he was granted permission to legally spend four weeks working on the island, which has enforced strict border rules during the pandemic.

After returning to the mainland, he tried more than once to return to the Isle of Man to see his new girlfriend, but was denied permission by the authorities. Under the island’s emergency coronavirus laws, anyone breaching the rules faces a maximum of three months behind bars or a fine of up to £10,000.

McLaughlan then carried out his plan to buy a jet ski and set off across the Irish Sea, despite the dangers and his lack of experience.

He went out with Jessica to two bars in Douglas on Friday night until 1.30am on Sunday.

When he was questioned by police in the street, he gave his address as her home and claimed he lived permanently on the island.

He was arrested at her home on Sunday evening. Jessica has not been accused of any criminal offence, but is having to quarantine herself for two weeks at home.

A Maritime and Coastguard Agency spokesperson confirmed that a search for McLaughlan had begun at around noon last Friday.

He said: ‘HM Coastguard tasked Isle of Whithorn Coastguard Rescue Team to a report of an overdue jet skier in the Isle of Whithorn area.

‘After investigations, contact was made with the jet skier who confirmed they were safe and well and not requiring assistance.’

McLaughlan’s former partner Korrin Hastings, 24, who is the mother of his two young children has refused to comment. It is believed that they had split up before his romance with Jessica.

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