THE posts that appeared on two private Facebook pages over a 10-day period in August and September last year were concerning, standing out even among the vast amount of racist and extremist views that are spread online.
They included vile racist rants, violent, nationalistic and anti-Islamic content and memes, threats to kill Muslims, they expressed admiration for accused Christchurch terrorist Brenton Tarrant and threatened to kill New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.
And, most alarming, they culminated in an all caps call to arms of sorts, a post pointing to an impending attack.
But was the man responsible a potential domestic terrorist, who, as he repeatedly claimed, was genuinely planning an imminent mass casualty attack on a mosque packed for Friday prayer.
Or was he a racist, a resentful but otherwise harmless vagrant who, while intoxicated, was prone to spewing anti-Islamic comments online.
In the case or Cormac Patrick Rothsey, the authorities were not willing to wait to find out.
Despite the increasingly violent anti-Islamic rhetoric, which culminated in posts that were deemed such a significant threat that Joint Counter Terrorism police launched a major operation to locate and arrest him, there was never any evidence Rothsey, a 43-year-old man living out of his backpack, was taking any active steps to carry out an attack or had access to any weapons.
But in the wake of domestic terrorism attacks, both in Australia and overseas, and the often red flags that preceded them, the case of R v Cormac Patrick Rothsey highlights how serious authorities are taking any threats of race-related violence or terrorism.
Rothsey, as he told police after his arrest, may never have intended to act on any of the ugly comments he spewed online.
Nonetheless, he has been deemed such an unacceptable risk to the community that Rothsey was twice been refused bail and has spent the past 167 days behind bars.
On Wednesday, Rothsey, who is represented by solicitor Hannah Bruce, appeared in Newcastle Local Court via audio visual link from Cessnock Correctional Centre where he pleaded guilty to using a carriage service to menace, harass or offend.
The seriousness of the charge, which carries a maximum of three years jail in the NSW District Court, where Rothsey will be sentenced, and the fact that the NSW Joint Counter Terrorism Team and Commonwealth DPP declined to charge him with anything more serious, including terrorism-related offences, may provide an insight into how they view the risk Rothsey actually posed.