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Jetski Romeo Dale McLaughlan tells today of his death-defying four-hour ride across the Irish Sea to his lover’s side – and jail.
Despite spending little more than a week with Jessica Radcliffe on the Isle of Man, the lovesick roofer took “matters into his own hands” when they were parted.
He made headlines worldwide when he was jailed last month for his illegal Covid-busting trip back – and was likened to the Milk Tray man.
But giving his first interview since being freed, Dale said he feels more like a “crappy James Bond”.
The 28-year-old, who had never ridden a jetski before and can hardly swim, clung on as he was lashed by freezing six-foot waves after his GPS washed away.
Driven on by love, he veered off course, almost ran out of fuel and arrived in the wrong town.
But he insisted: “Turning around was never an option.”
Speaking from his hometown of Irvine in Ayrshire, Dale told how he fell madly in love with Jessica. He said: “I was working on the island legally for just over three weeks in September.
“I went out to the pub one night. That’s when I first met Jess. She said, ‘I saw you looking at me’, and it kicked off from there.”
Dale spent a week visiting the mum of two, 30, before his work permit ran out. He said: “The minute I got on that ferry I knew I was making one of the biggest mistakes of my life. I had to find a way back.”
He tried to return legally but was denied by lockdown. So he bought the £5,500 jetski, passed a Covid test and headed to the coast.
He said: “I knew it was about 27 miles from that point to the Isle of Man. I knew the jetski could do 52mph – I thought it’d take 45 minutes.” But Dale’s terrifying voyage took four-and-a-half hours. He said: “When I set off it was raining and the waves were way higher than it said. I wasn’t put off, but as soon as I hit open water I thought, ‘Oh my God’. It was terrible.
“Initially I followed the GPS, but after half an hour a massive wave wiped it away. After two hours I thought, ‘Where the bloody hell am I?’. I genuinely thought I was lost at sea. I was scared.
Dad jailed for crossing sea on jet ski because he missed girlfriend 'can't even swim'
“It was so cold. The water was black and was getting in my eyes and mouth. But the thought of Jessica kept driving me on.”
The jetski’s petrol light pinged with just 10 minutes’ fuel left – then Dale spotted the Isle of Man. He said: “I felt such bloody relief.”
Ditching the jetski, he then marched 15 miles to Jess’ house.
He said: “I just stuck my headphones on and off I went. I was
listening to power ballads. I kept replaying Heart’s What About Love?.
Jessica said: “When Dale got to my house I was like a little kid. He gave me the biggest hug ever.”
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Two days later the police turned up and Dale was arrested.
Jessica said: “I was in disbelief when the police came. I thought, ‘How’s he managed to get here on a jetski?’” The next day, December 14, Dale was sentenced to four weeks’ jail. He served half before being freed. Dale said: “People are saying I’m a legend. Others think I’ve done a terrible thing. I broke the law. But I did it for love.”
He wants to return to the island legally to live with Jessica. He said: “The Isle of Man is now famous for the TT and one crazy jetski guy.”
Jessica added: “I love Dale now. How could I not after what he did?”
- James Bond
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