Covid: Man jailed for Scotland-Isle of Man water scooter crossing

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Ramsey harbourImage source, Dave Kneale
Image caption,
McLaughlan arrived in Ramsey on Friday afternoon and then walked to Douglas

A man who crossed the Irish Sea from Scotland to the Isle of Man "on a jet ski" to visit his girlfriend has been jailed for breaching Covid-19 laws.

Douglas Courthouse heard 28-year-old Dale McLaughlan took four-and-a-half hours to travel from the Isle of Whithorn to Ramsey on Friday.

McLaughlan, from North Ayrshire, made the crossing despite having never driven a water scooter before.

He admitted arriving unlawfully on the island and was jailed for four weeks.

Under the island's current laws, only non-residents given special permission are allowed to enter the Isle of Man.

McLaughlan, of Warrix Avenue in Irvine, was previously given permission to work as a roofer on the island for four weeks in September and, after isolating for 14 days, met his girlfriend on a night out.

The court heard his subsequent applications to return had been rejected.

'Very real risk'

Prosecutors said the 28-year-old bought the vehicle and set off on the journey of about 25 miles (40km), which he had expected to take 40 minutes.

After he arrived in Ramsey at about 13:00 GMT, he walked another 15 miles (25km) to his girlfriend's home in Douglas, who believed he had been on the island working for several weeks, the court was told.

The following afternoon, he gave a police officer her address as his own and that evening, the couple went to two busy nightclubs.

Following identification checks, police arrested him on Sunday evening.

In mitigation, the 28-year-old's defence advocate said he suffered from depression and was not coping with being unable to see his partner.

Sentencing him, Deputy High Bailiff Christopher Arrowsmith said McLaughlan had made a "deliberate and intentional attempt to circumnavigate" the border restrictions, potentially putting the community at risk.

He said the "carefully planned" journey had also put the 28-year-old "at very real risk" of harm.

Speaking after the hearing, a government spokesman said following an investigation, public health officials were "satisfied" there was "no wider risk to the public".

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