Monday, 29 October 2012

Digitised mug shot goes viral

A digitised mug shot of a petty criminal with more than a passing resemblance to David Beckham has gone viral and become an internet sensation.

The of photograph of Daniel Joseph Tohill (incorrectly identified as Lohill) was included in the New Zealand Police Museum: Suspicious Looking online exhibition (covering the period1886 to 1908) and has received half a million admiring hits since it was posted a month ago. Comments include "They said he was a model inmate", "Looks like he was ... one smooth criminal", and "if looking handsome is a crime ... then guilty".

Ref: Daniel Joseph Tohill, NZ Police Museum, Suspicious Looking
Tohill was born in Ravensbourne, Dunedin, in 1881. According to newspaper clippings, he was charged with stealing two ferrets in Christchurch on 16 June 1906, and also for a theft from a Nelson railway station shed in September 1907.

On 2 March 1908, the labourer and railway porter was charged - and the now infamous mug shot was taken - for allegedly stealing a bicycle and a fur necklet in Napier. He was later acquitted on the charge of stealing a bicycle, but sentenced to four months at Napier Prison on the charge of stealing the necklet.

Tohill's criminal record ended there, and he later moved with his wife and young children to Auckland, where he died in 1950, aged 68.

Tohill's Dunedin-based grand-nephew, Dylan Tohill (43), knew little about the family other than that they poor and was pleased to find out that his relative had achieved online success so long after his death.

Check out the New Zealand Police Museum: Suspicious Looking online exhibition for more information about the invention of mug shot photography, the introduction of mug shots to New Zealand and much more.

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