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Good-looking old-timey Kiwi crim goes viral

Thursday 25 Oct 2012 6:48 a.m.

Daniel Tohill (incorrectly labelled as Daniel Lohill)

Daniel Tohill (incorrectly labelled as Daniel Lohill)

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By 3 News online staff / NZN

A century-old photograph of a New Zealand petty criminal - who may have stolen ferrets and fur necklets - has become a 21st Century internet hit.

The mugshot of Daniel Tohill, taken in 1908, was among an exhibition by the New Zealand Police Museum called Suspicious Looking. He is easily one of the more photogenic criminals alongside his peers.

Tohill's picture, originally uploaded to social media site Reddit last month, has also been picked up by photographic websites where he was labelled the "Ridiculously photogenic 19th century NZ criminal" and "Got caught... stealing hearts".

One of the websites has so far attracted nearly half a million views.

"I need a time machine so I can have his children...," wrote one poster, while others compared him to David Beckham.

Others said, "If looking handsome is a crime, then he's guilty"; "He was arrested for being way too sexy for his time"; and "His crime was growing that bitchin mustache!"

Research by British-based historian, Chelsea Nichols, who had curated the original police exhibition, revealed more of Tohill's past, and his post-criminal future.

Tohill, born in 1881 - the third of 18 children, married Frances O'Kane in Otago in 1903.

"It seems rather funny that his seemingly short-lived crime spurt roughly coincided with the births of his children," Ms Nichols wrote in her blog The Museum of Ridiculously Interesting Things.

"Perhaps the family had fallen on hard times and he was doing what he had to do to provide for them or maybe he saw jail as a welcome break from the stresses of dealing with three little children."

He was sentenced to four months' hard labour for stealing the fur.

Tohill died in Auckland in 1950, aged 68.


3 News / NZN

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