A lovesick Romeo who was jailed after he crossed the Irish Sea on a jetski to visit his girlfriend has been targeted by sick trolls who have wrongly branded him a rapist.
Dale McLaughlan made headlines around the world after his coronavirus rule-breaking trip last month to the Isle of Man.
The 28-year-old says he has been hounded since returning back to live with his mum in Irvine, Scotland, over a past court appearance – despite the fact he was unanimously cleared of the allegations made against him.
In 2013, Dale was accused of raping a woman in his home town but was cleared in court.
The dad of two told the Daily Record: “It’s shocking that this has been dragged up.”
After the story of his Irish Sea crossing broke, screenshots of news articles from 2013, when he was initially arrested and charged with rape, were posted on various social media sites.
But they did not reveal he had been cleared over the case.
Dale was accused of attacking a woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, in Irvine when he was 21.
It was alleged the 18-year-old had been raped in the town’s Townhead area.
He later went on trial at the High Court in Glasgow over the alleged sex attack and was acquitted after a jury found him not guilty of the charge.
Speaking yesterday, Dale said it was “shocking” that his historic rape charge had been dragged up.
His mum, Allison, said of the sick troll posts: “I’ve got lawyers on to it. This has to stop. I’ve been to his lawyer.
“There will be a letter, and it’s getting posted to the Isle of Man woman who put it on.
“I phoned Isle of Man police and I phoned Irvine police.
“He got a unanimous, not guilty, 15 verdict.”
Roofer Dale attracted worldwide fame over his romance with new girlfriend Jessica Radcliffe, 30.
Speaking to our sister paper, the Sunday Mirror, about the jetski jaunt, Dale said: “I met Jess at the pub.
“I was staring at her. She actually said I was a bit creepy but she loved my eyes.”
They had a romantic week together but Dale’s work permit expired and he returned to Scotland at the beginning of October.
As Covid restrictions required visitors to have permission to visit the island, he applied for a permit on compassionate grounds but was refused.
So he spent £5500 on the jet ski, £100 on a marine GPS, £350 on a drysuit, £20 on a dry bag and took a Covid test ahead of his jaunt, setting off on the four-and-a-half hour journey on December 11 after the test showed he was negative.
But he and Jessica were stopped by police going to a pub on the island – leading to his arrest the next day.
He said: “They stuck handcuffs on me for breaching Covid rules. I didn’t deny it – I was caught red-handed.
“I think I’ve lifted a lot of spirits. A lot of people say I’ve made a good end to a terrible year. That made me feel better.”
Police sources have confirmed arrangements are being made to speak to Allison about her concerns.