Ben HaywardDecember 15th
2020

A man has been jailed for breaching Covid-19 laws after he travelled across the the Irish Sea on a jet ski to visit his girlfriend on the Isle of Man.

Dale McLaughlan has been sentenced to a four week jail term after admitting arriving unlawfully on the island, reports the BBC.

McLaughlan travelled from Whithorn on the west coast of Scotland to Ramsey, a town in the northern part of the Isle of Man -  a journey he had expected to take just 40 minutes, but had actually taken four-and-a-half hours.

Under the Isle of Man's current laws, only non-residents granted special permission are allowed onto the island - a status that had previously been granted to McLaughlan enabling hime to work as a roofer on the island for four weeks in September, having isolated for 14 days. 

The 28-year-old met his girlfriend on a night out during his initial stay, however, his subsequent applications to return had been rejected.

According to prosecutors, he bought the jet ski and set off on the journey of around 25 miles, arriving in Ramsey at about 1pm last Friday, before then walking another 15 miles to his girlfriend's home in Douglas.

The court was told that his partner believed he had been on the island working for several weeks.

The following afternoon, McLaughlan gave police her address as his own, before the couple went to two busy nightclubs together that evening. 

However, when Police then carried out identification checks, he was arrested on the Sunday morning.

McLaughlan’s defence lawyer told the court that his client suffered from depression, and had been struggling to cope without being able to see his girlfriend.

However, when sentencing, Deputy High Bailiff Christopher Arrowsmith said that McLaughlan had potentially put the community at risk by making a 'deliberate and intentional attempt to circumnavigate' the border restrictions, adding that the journey across the sea had also put him 'at very real risk' of harm.

Guidelines on the website for the Isle of Man Government outlines a Borders Framework, which is the island's 'first line of defence from importing unacceptable levels of the virus'.

It says the government believes it is likely to need 'some form of border restrictions' for 'some time to come'.

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

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