Mental health assessments of the man accused of the Claremont serial killings concluded he was venting pent up anger when he attacked a woman he'd just met in 1990, a Perth court has heard.
Bradley Robert Edwards was convicted of assault over the crime at Hollywood Hospital, which involved him grabbing the victim from behind, putting material over her mouth and attempting to drag her into a toilet, but she broke free.
Cable ties were found in his pocket.
He apologised and was sentenced to two years probation.
A West Australian Supreme Court directions hearing on Tuesday heard details of psychological and psychiatric reports on Edwards following that offence.
Superficially, there was no provocation other than the victim speaking to him in an irritable tone.
The former Telstra technician was unable to offer an explanation for his actions or what he planned to do.
But he pointed to frustrations about not being able to fix equipment that day and pressure from his girlfriend, who, after announcing her love for him, revealed she was still sleeping with an ex-boyfriend, which sparked an argument.
"It is likely this source of agitation played a role," the psychologist said.
He said Edwards' "usual practise is to suppress or bottle up his emotions", he had a strong need to feel secure in a close personal relationship and had "quite a fragile self esteem".
"Being betrayed by his girlfriend left him feeling hurt," the psychologist said.
The psychiatrist said Edwards was "emotionally constricted" and it was unlikely the sources of frustration he cited were "the entire explanation".
The psychologist similarly reported Edwards had a "displacement of feeling", which Justice Stephen Hall said was essentially the prosecution's "emotional upset" argument.
Prosecutor Carmel Barbagallo agreed.
"Something wrong is done to him (by someone) close to him ... and he then takes it out on someone he doesn't know," Ms Barbagallo said.
She has previously argued the breakdown of Edwards' relationship in early 1996 coincided with the disappearance of Sarah Spiers, who was the first murder victim, and there were no more killings after he met someone new.
The court also heard on Tuesday that a Telstra van was spotted four to five times in October 1995 at the same cemetery, Karrakatta, where Edwards allegedly raped a woman in February that year.
Justice Hall asked if Ms Barbagallo was suggesting the rapist would go back to the scene of the crime and Ms Barbagallo replied yes, adding it "must be for malevolent purposes".
"Seeking opportunities to abduct, sexually assault and murder young women in those areas," she said.
"He sits around waiting for opportunities."
The evidence was consistent with other sightings of a Telstra van in the area, including a man offering girls lifts, Ms Barbagallo said.
She said the Karrakatta rape could be proved "beyond reasonable doubt on DNA alone".
The prosecution says Edwards' DNA was also found on the third murder victim, Ciara Glennon, and on a kimono he allegedly left behind after attacking a woman while she slept in her Huntingdale home in 1988.
The court also heard Edwards said "you're assuming I've done it" in a police interview.
The officer responded "I'm not" then went on to say "science speaks for itself".
The case will return for a pre-trial conference in August.
Australian Associated Press