A close up of a man and a woman posing for the camera

Meth user who fell asleep at the wheel killing pregnant partner in Coolup crash jailed in Perth

A driver whose pregnant partner was killed when he fell asleep at the wheel, a year before he caused another crash in Darwin that seriously injured his new partner, has been jailed in Western Australia.

Michael Dixon, 37, pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing the death of 31-year-old Mel Duffey in Coolup, about 100 kilometers south of Perth, on December 13, 2019.

The District Court was told Dixon had not slept for more than 72 hours.

Traces of methamphetamine were also found in his blood and he admitted injecting the drug two days before the crash.

Ms Duffey, who had wanted to return home from their camping trip because she was worried about her three children, was thrown from the vehicle and died at the scene.

She was six months pregnant.

Mel Duffey was killed when his partner Michael Dixon fell asleep at the wheel while driving.(Facebook: Mel Duffey)

After the crash, Dixon moved to Darwin, where a year later, in December 2020, he crashed an all terrain vehicle into a street sign, seriously injuring his new partner, former police officer Kristi Wenck.

Dixon had been drinking with friends at a party beforehand and he pleaded guilty in the Northern Territory to driving under the influence as well as dangerous driving causing harm.

Emergency vehicles are by the edge of the road where an ATV is on its side.
The aftermath of the crash in Darwin, in which Michael Dixon’s new partner received serious injuries. (ABC News: Dane Hirst)

He was given a suspended jail term, but he was later extradited to Perth to face the charge over the crash that claimed the life of Ms Duffey.

‘disastrous decision’

Judge Mara Barone accepted Dixon had made the decision to drive because Ms Duffey was concerned and anxious about her children and not because of a selfish desire to return home.

“You drove because you believed it was the right thing … it proved to be a disastrous decision,” Judge Barone told a tearful Dixon.

A dark photo of a badly damaged vehicle on a tow truck ramp.
The wreckage after Michael Dixon fell asleep at the wheel while driving in Coolup in December 2019, killing his partner Mel Duffey.(abcnews)

She said Dixon must have been aware of the extent of his fatigue and of the risk he would fall asleep.

Judge Barone highlighted Dixon’s subsequent offenses in the Northern Territory and told him he needed to understand that he could not drive in a manner that put the safety and lives of others in danger.

She sentenced him to three years’ jail — he will have to serve 18 months before he can be released on parole.

Dixon was also disqualified from driving for five years.

Three people in face masks walk along a city street.
Mel Duffey’s mother Cindy Rogers (right), pictured with her family outside court, criticized the sentence. (ABC News: Greg Pollock)

Outside the court Ms Duffey’s mother, Cindy Rogers, fought back tears as she described the sentence as “wrong”.

“I’ve still got her children, they’re with me and they want their mum and I can’t give them their mum and it’s his fault,” she said.