A drug affected driver who bullied and abused a woman when she refused to take the blame for a dramatic crash on the Western Freeway, will walk free after nearly a year behind bars.
Luke Rogan, 31, pleaded guilty in the Victorian County Court to perverting the course of justice, after he crashed a silver Honda Jazz while driving erratically on September 5, 2022.
Between Woodman's Hill and Gordon, Rogan was seen by other drivers slowing down and speeding up, as well as swerving across emergency lanes and not allowing other vehicles to pass him.
About 7:45pm, as Rogan approached Gordon he hit a metal barrier and spun out of control, before flipping over another barrier and flying into grassland 30 metres from the road.
The car landed on its roof and witnesses who narrowly avoided the collision said they saw Rogan get out of the car and look in the back seat before ditching a bag in the grassy area beside the road.
When Rogan approached witnesses on the side of the road, he told them a friend was responsible and ran off while he was sleeping in the passenger seat.
At the time of the crash, false plates were attached to the Honda Jazz and Rogan was not licensed to drive.
After being questioned by police, Rogan was taken to Ballarat Base Hospital, where he tested positive for methamphetamine and amphetamine.
About a week after the crash, Rogan called an ex-partner and asked if she knew someone who he could pay to take responsibility for the crash.
As he was serving a community corrections order, he feared he would go to prison if found guilty.
Rogan's ex-partner said she would take the blame for him, as she felt sorry for his young son, and she believed the charges were not serious.
In late November 2022, Rogan made the woman memorise a confession he had written out, and refused to leave her home until she called Bacchus Marsh police station.
On November 29, 2022, the woman found out about the severity of the charges she was facing and told police she wasn't the driver.
When Rogan found out she wasn't going to take responsibility for the crash, he sent her a string of vitriolic abuse.
"I hope next time you're sick it's terminal and you f---g die you're a lowlife," he said in one text message.
"You should have died instead of your kid, then you would have been left alone."
In other messages Rogan accused the woman of ruining his life, and described her as a "dog", "disease ridden" and "maggot weak".
During a police interview on January 23, 2023, Rogan admitted to being the driver of the car, and to taking methamphetamine on the day of the crash.
I hope next time you're sick it's terminal and you f---g die you're a lowlife.- Luke Rogan sent abusive texts to a woman ho refused to take the blame for him
He told police he hadn't slept for 24 hours before the collision, and also confessed to trying to convince his ex-partner to take the fall for him.
Defence counsel for Rogan said their client had pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity, and had suffered a traumatic upbringing while living in Perth.
They said Rogan suffered from depression, anxiety and substance abuse problems, and he had been unable to engage with treatment while imprisoned for the past 317 days.
Upon release, Rogan's lawyer said the 31-year-old would have stable accommodation and support while living with his father in the western Victorian town of Amphitheatre.
Judge John Smallwood said based on Rogan's history, remorse would be a "distant concept" for him, but his guilty plea entitled him to a reduced sentence.
"In the end you've done enough for it [the crime]," he said.
Rogan was sentenced to 300 days already served, without a guilty plea Judge Smallwood said he would have sentenced him to 400 days behind bars.
Affected by this story? There is help available.
You can phone the Ballarat Centre Against Sexual Assault, in Sebastopol, on 5320 3933, or free-call the crisis care line 24 hours on 1800 806 292.
Or phone Lifeline on 13 11 14, the Blue Knot Foundation on 1300 657 380, or Relationships Australia on 1300 364 277.