His best mate's stabbing death was to blame. His raging addiction to "ice" was to blame.
Sexually abused as a child: that, too, was to blame, though far more recently, this incident from when he was a boy of eight revealed just as he was about to be jailed yet again.
He was traumatised, he relayed through his lawyer, but still trying. He felt remorse and was working hard in jail to put his demons to rest.
He had a five-days-a-week job inside, was having a crack at all the courses he could; all those things the about-to-be convicted hoist on to a very large pedestal so as to soften their sentencing fate.
IN OTHER NEWS:
At least that was the story he told, dressed-up with fresh insight, with a respectful presence on the video link to jail that belied the hideous reality suffered by his partner.
His victim though couldn't escape his violence in the same way that Nathan Troy Vercoe couldn't escape who he had become.
This time he tried to choke the life out of her, the mother of their two young children, a three-year-old and a mere babe of one.
Vercoe hoped he might be let out of jail, perhaps on an intensive corrections order; one with supervision and conditions to help with a suddenly realised desire for rehabilitation, so soon after making clear he didn't think that was necessary.
Magistrate Richard Funston appeared equally dismayed and disgusted by the savage attack Vercoe inflicted on his victim in her West Albury home on January 4.
What he saw, even in the face of a thorough sentencing submission by defence solicitor Mitchell Irwin, was a clear pattern of escalating violence.
It was always the same victim. And despite repeatedly pledging in previous court appearances to change his ways, in every one of those here-and-now moments of personal clarity, he hadn't.
Vercoe was sentenced in Albury Local Court yesterday over his latest, clearly most serious domestic violence-related charges so far, of assault occasioning actual bodily harm, of intentionally choking a person without their consent, and of intimidation.
Also before the court was a larceny matter, to which he had only just pleaded guilty - within the context of his violence, Mr Funston remarked, this was almost insignificant.
A one-month term for that.
HIDDEN TRAUMA - IN DEPTH:
The court had become dismayed by him continually "thumbing his nose" at its orders, as the apprehended violence order contraventions piled up at its doors.
Seven bonds he just ignored.
The 44-year-old was jailed for these string of breaches, Mr Funston handing out two- and three-month jail terms.
But it was for the Tuesday morning attack that he was hit with the heaviest sentences: 18 months for one, the next, 22 months, then another of 18 months.
Four years in total and a two-year stint before parole.
The offender's trauma, Mr Funston accepted this was real, but what the victim endured carried far, far more weight in sentencing than Vercoe's rehabilitation.
A sentencing assessment report, prepared by NSW Community Corrections, certainly gave the court what Mr Funston considered a valuable understanding of how Vercoe viewed his behaviour.
In response to a line of questioning, Vercoe accepted responsibility for what he had done.
But then he reckoned his partner had to share "part of the blame". If she had taken more responsibility for looking after the children, as he put it, he might not have acted in the way he did.
For Mr Funston it was a telling insight, one that hardened his attitude to punishment versus altering the ways of a violent, recidivist offender who "doesn't want to change his behaviour".
The death that so shook Vercoe was of his "best mate" Lloyd Kennedy, who was fatally stabbed outside a Lavington house on November 6, 2016, by Adam Jay Azzi, who was later sentenced to 11 years' jail for manslaughter.
Azzi had thrust a knife into Mr Kennedy's chest, the blade piercing the left ventricle of his heart and then his liver.
He died later in hospital, though Vercoe thought he was about to lose him then and there and so grabbed him, held him in his arms and pleaded with a woman who arrived on scene to call for an ambulance.
That moment, Mr Irwin explained to the court on Tuesday, was one from which Vercoe had never truly recovered.
"His best friend died in his arms, he was almost killed himself."
That trauma, Mr Irwin said, and Vercoe's deep addiction to methamphetamine had contributed to the violence inflicted on his partner.
"And he does have a problem with adhering to those (domestic violence) orders," he said.
But Mr Funston wasn't swayed, showing particular distaste over Vercoe holding his younger child at one point during his assault.
"What kind of father does that? He's a complete failure."
The victim woke that January day about 9.30am to Vercoe yelling abuse, calling both she and their older child a "c ... "
While spitting his vitriol, Vercoe got on top and put his hands around her throat, squeezing so hard she couldn't breath.
She tried to get Vercoe off her by kicking out and hitting him, so he retaliated by pushing his knees into her chest as he tightened his grip.
"Is this what you want? I am going to f ... ing kill you," Vercoe threatened before punching her several times to the face, all-the-while holding the 12-month-old in his other arm.
She got some respite when he told her to go look after their children, but within minutes was trying to choke her again while throwing more punches and, again, threatening: "I'm going to break your throat so you can't breathe."
Vercoe, who is due for release on January 5, 2023, was told by Mr Funston that such conduct was deplored by society.
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content:
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.