April 2012

50+ Mug Shots

  • These mug shots from the 1920s and ’30s document the dawning of a new era in Australian criminology—razor gangs, which sprang up as the country was illegalizing the previously rampant drugs, prostitution, gambling and guns. Thugs began using razors as their weapon of choice in the hopes of evading heightened sentences. The photos are from a collection of about 2,500 “special photographs” taken by New South Wales Police Department—special in that we’re sure you’ll agree these are a far cry from today’s definition of jailhouse portraits.
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<h1>Guiseppe Fiori, <em>alias Permontto</em></h1>
<h3>Aug. 5, 1924 / location unknown</h3>
The police gazette for 1924 includes no entry for Fiori/Permontto. However, this photograph appears in a later supplement, in which Fiori is described as a “safebreaker.”
  • 
<h1>Herbert Ellis</h1>
<h3>Circa 1920 / presumably Central Police Station, Sydney</h3>
Ellis is found in numerous police records from the 1910s through '30s. He is variously listed as a house breaker, a shop breaker, a safe breaker, a receiver and a “suspected person.” A photo of a considerably less self-assured Ellis appears in the criminal register of Aug. 29, 1934. By then, his convictions included “goods in custody, indecent language, stealing, receiving and throwing a missile.” An entry reported he “seldom engages in crime in company, but possessing a most villainous character, he influences associates to commit robberies, and he arranges for the disposal of the proceeds.” It adds that he was nicknamed Curley, for his thinning hair, and Deafy, for his hearing problems.
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<h1>Ernest Joseph Coffey</h1>
<h3>June 2, 1922 / location unknown</h3>
In 1928, Coffey was shot in a gunfight with police. A police sergeant testified that Coffey slumped down and said he gave up. But when the officer approached, Coffey fired—and missed. He was convicted of shooting with the intent to avoid arrest. The veteran of combat in Gallipoli and France was released in 1931, and his entry in the criminal register for that year reads, “Is at present engaged in missionary work.”
  • 
<h1>Joseph Messenger</h1>
<h3>Feb. 15, 1922 / Central Police Station, Sydney</h3>
Joseph Messenger, along with Valerie Lowe, were arrested in 1921 for breaking into an army warehouse and stealing boots and overcoats valued at 29 pounds, 3 shillings. In 1922, they were arrested for stealing a saddle and bridle from Rosebery Racecourse. Messenger, who was 18 when this photograph was taken, would become active in the inner-Sydney underworld through the 1920s and is listed as a seasoned criminal and gang affiliate in a 1930 criminal register entry. It was reported that he “violently [resists] arrest...frequents wine saloons, billiard rooms and racecourses...consorts with prostitutes.”
  • 
<h1>William Joseph Evans</h1>
<h3>May 26, 1921 / Central Police Station, Sydney</h3>
Evans, who roamed the city and suburbs selling fake insurance policies, was profiled in a May 29, 1921, article in <i>Truth</i> under the headline “Sweet Swindle/Impudent Insurance Imposter/ Evan’s Easy Way of Eking Out an Existence/How Trusting Folk Were Left Lamenting/Cheeky Crook Caged Comfortably.” Evans even sold a bogus policy to the printer who produced his stationery.
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<h1>Frederick Edward Davies</h1>
<h3>July 14, 1921 / probably Central Police Station, Sydney</h3>
The handwritten inscription on the photograph reads “Frederick Edward Davies stealing in picture shows and theatres Dets. Surridge Clark and Breen Central 14-7-21.” Police held sneak thieves in particularly low regard, which may account for the decision to photograph Davies in front of the police station’s toilet stalls.
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<h1>John Walter Ford & <br>Oswald Clive Nash</h1>
<h3>June 1921 / possibly North Sydney Police Station</h3>
A week after this photograph was taken, Ford and Nash, both 16, appeared in North Sydney Police Court on charges of breaking and entering and stealing. They were released on bonds “to be of good behavior” for one year.
  • 
<h1>Sidney Kelly</h1>
<h3>June 25, 1924 / Central Police Station, Sydney</h3>
Details surrounding this photograph are unknown, but Kelly was arrested many times and much written about in newspapers in the 1920s through ’40s. He was charged with offenses including shooting and assault, and in the 1940s was a pioneer of illegal baccarat gaming in Sydney. This photograph appears in a July 1926 photo supplement with the caption, “Illicit drug trader. Drives his own motor car and dresses well. Associates with criminals and prostitutes.”
  • 
<h1>Sydney Skukerman</h1>
<h3>Sept. 25, 1924 / Central Police Station, Sydney</h3>
A gazette supplement says Skukerman, who used the aliases Kukarman and Cecil Landan, “obtained goods from warehousemen by falsely representing that he is in business.”
  • 
<h1>Harry Chapman</h1>
<h3>June 30, 1924 / location unknown</h3>
Chapman, then 19, was arrested for breaking and entering a dwelling-house and stealing articles valued at 2 pounds, 16 shillings and 6 pence.
  • 
<h1>Frank McGowan, Robert McFarlane & John Dennis McFarlane</h1>
<h3>May 23, 1921 / Central Police Station, Sydney</h3>
Robert McFarlane, center, is mentioned in the Police Gazette of Sept. 7, 1921, in connection with the theft of “three clocks, two sports coats and other articles” from the warehouse of Dobson Franks Ltd. He is listed in the criminal register of Sept. 24, 1930, as a “thief and petty larcenist.” Robert McFarlane was reported to visit foundries with a horse and cart to steal ingots of iron copper and tin and was accused of stealing “laundered articles from clothes lines.” He is described as being of “violent disposition,” “addicted to drink” and associating with “the vagrant class.”
  • 
<h1>Harold Price</h1>
<h3>Aug. 13, 1923 / Central Police Station, Sydney</h3>
Price was a thief and gunman. This photograph was taken after he was charged with armed robbery at a house in Randwick, Sydney. He was sentenced to two years of hard labor.
  • 
<h1>Walter Smith</h1>
<h3>Dec. 15, 1924 / location unknown</h3>
Smith is listed in the Dec. 24, 1924, gazette as “charged with breaking and entering the dwelling house of Edward Mulligan and stealing blinds” and with stealing clothing from another dwelling house. Smith was sentenced to six months of hard labor.
  • 
<h1>George Whitehall</h1>
<h3>Feb. 24, 1922 / possibly Newtown Police Station</h3>
Whitehall, a carpenter, handed himself in to Newtown police after he hacked to death his common-law wife, Ida Parker, on a Thursday afternoon at their home on Pleasant Avenue in Erskineville. The photograph was presumably taken the next day.
  • 
<h1>Francis Flood</h1>
<h3>May 1920 / Central Police Station, Sydney</h3>
A gazette entry on May 5, 1920, lists Flood as one of two men arrested for the theft of 400 blouses from a Kent Street merchant. Each was sentenced to two years of hard labor.
  • 
<h1>Phillip Elmsworth Smith</h1>
<h3>May 19, 1921 / possibly Darlinghurst Police Station, Sydney</h3>
Details surrounding this photograph are unknown, but Smith appears frequently in police records of the 1920s. He is described in an October 1927 photo supplement as a “pickpocket and confidence man,” who “frequents metropolitan and country racecourse meetings in the various states.” A 1928 entry describes him as an “interstate pickpocket and bogus agent. Frequents dance halls. Dresses well. A native of Queensland.” The newspaper <i>Truth</i> in 1928 called Smith a “go-getter,” a con man who sold suburban building blocks at grossly inflated prices, by falsely leading the buyers to believe the lots could be promptly resold for a huge profit.
  • 
<h1>Spencer Cornford</h1>
<h3>Dec. 9, 1924 / location unknown</h3>
Cornford, 19, was among seven young men convicted in early 1925 of a series of break-and-enters. Cornford was charged with stealing watches, clothing and money from a shop and with stealing two motorcycles and sidecars. He received 12 months of hard labor on each charge.
  • 
<h1>William Stanley Moore</h1>
<h3>May 1, 1925 / Central Police Station, Sydney</h3>
This photograph appears in the July 28, 1926, gazette supplement with the caption: “Opium dealer. Operates with large quantities of faked opium and cocaine. A wharf laborer; associates with waterfront thieves and drug traders.”
  • 
<h1>William Cahill</h1>
<h3>July 30, 1923 / Central Police Station, Sydney</h3>
No details given.
  • 
<h1>William Munro</h1>
<h3>Sept. 17, 1924 / Central Police Station, Sydney</h3>
Munro is listed in the gazette as charged, with Harris Hunter, with receiving goods stolen from Snow’s department store.
  • 
<h1>Alfred Ladewig</h1>
<h3>date unknown / possibly Central Police Station, Sydney</h3>
A Sept. 15, 1920, gazette entry reads: “Alfred Ladewig, alias Wallace, and John Walker, alias Atkins, charged on provisional warrant with stealing by trick the sum of £204, at Brisbane (Q), the property of Alfred Walter Thomlinson, have been arrested...
  • 
<h1>William Moon</h1>
<h3>Aug. 7, 1922 / probably Central Police Station, Sydney</h3>
No details given.
  • 
<h1>Alfred Fitch</h1>
<h3>Aug. 18, 1924 / location unknown</h3>
When this photograph was taken, Fitch was a car thief. The 1933 <i>New South Wales Criminal Register</i> reported that he associated with the leaders of the Darlinghurst criminal milieu.
  • 
<h1>De Gracy & Edward Dalton</h1>
<h3>Circa 1920 / Central Police Station, Sydney</h3>
A version of this photograph appears in a police photo book, with the penciled annotation  “magsmen” and no further information offered. (Magsmen is slang for trickster.)
  • 
<h1>Norman Wallace</h1>
<h3>May 29, 1923 / location unknown</h3>
No details given.
  • 
<h1>Eugenia Falleni, <em>alias Harry Crawford</em></h1>
<h3>1920 / Central Police Station Sydney</h3>
When a hotel cleaner known as Harry Leon Crawford was arrested and charged with killing his wife, he was revealed to be a woman and mother, Eugenia Falleni, who had been passing as a man since 1899. In 1914, Harry Crawford had married Annie Birkett, a widow. Three years later, shortly after Birkett told a relative that she had discovered “something amazing about Harry,” she disappeared. Crawford told neighbors that Birkett had run off with a plumber. In 1919, Birkett’s young son, who had remained in Crawford’s custody, told an aunt of attempts made on his life by his drunken stepfather. The aunt contacted police. A charred body found in 1917 was later identified as Birkett’s. Harry Crawford's astonished second wife, when finally convinced of Falleni’s true gender, remarked: “I always wondered why he was so painfully shy.”
  • 
<h1>Thomas Bede</h1>
<h3>Nov. 28, 1928 / Central Police Station, Sydney</h3>
Bede was charged with suborning a witness on Dec. 11, 1928, in Sydney. No other details are known.
  • 
<h1>Albert Sing</h1>
<h3>March 31, 1922 / location unknown</h3>
On May 1, 1922, Sing was sentenced to 18 months hard labor on three counts of receiving stolen goods, including fountain pens, cutlery and clothing.
  • 
<h1>Alfred John West</h1>
<h3>April 7, 1922 / Central Police Station, Sydney</h3>
A 1924 gazette photo supplement refers to Alfred John West as a pickpocket. His nickname, Eurythmic, hints at a high order of larcenous expertise. West is listed 10 years later in the criminal register as a “pickpocket and Spieler.” (Spieler is slang for swindler or gambler.)
  • 
<h1>Ah Chong</h1>
<h3>July 11, 1928 / Central Police Station, Sydney</h3>
The New South Wales Police Gazette reported on June 21, 1922, that a man named Ah Chong was convicted of two counts of “receiving,” for which he was sentenced to one year hard labor. The D mark on the mug shot signifies that the photograph was taken for the drug bureau, which in the late 1920s consisted of two detectives.
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<h1>Ronald Frederick Schmidt</h1>
<h3>June 13, 1921 / location unknown</h3>
No details given.
  • 
<h1>E.A.R Cavendish</h1>
<h3>May 31, 1926 / location unknown</h3>
No details given.
  • 
<h1>Sidney “Pretty Sid” Grant</h1>
<h3>Oct. 11, 1921 / location unknown</h3>
 A picture of Grant appears in police gazette of May 2, 1923, captioned “Confidence man (notes for gold).”
  • 
<h1>Kong Lee</h1>
<h3>Nov. 27, 1922 / location unknown</h3>
Lee appears numerous times in the police gazette, listed as a “safe blower” and “thief” and is noted in the February 1929 issue as having been seen riding trains “in the company of card sharpers and spielers.”
  • 
<h1>Alfred Bodmore</h1>
<h3>Aug. 3, 1923</h3>
The gazette in October 1923 reports that Bodmore was charged with breaking and entering two warehouses and stealing goods and money. The Police Gazette Photo Supplement of August 1925 lists him as “Podmore, Alfred. Safe-blower” and he appears again in a 1927 photo supplement as “Podmore, Alfred, alias Matthew Campbell. Safe-blower.”
  • 
<h1>Frederick Schmelz</h1>
<h3>June 20, 1930 / location unknown</h3>
The photograph’s designation, D88, marks it as a drug bureau image, though details of the arrest are not known.
  • 
<h1>“Hayes”</h1>
<h3>Early 1920s / presumably Central Police Station</h3>
No details given.
  • 
<h1>Ernest James Montague</h1>
<h3>Aug. 29, 1927 / Central Police Station, Sydney</h3>
No details given.
  • 
<h1>Frank Murray, <em>alias Harry Williams</em></h1>
<h3>Feb. 4, 1929 / Central Police Station, Sydney</h3>
 Williams was sentenced to a year of hard labor in March 1929 for breaking, entering and stealing. An April 30, 1930, entry in the criminal register describes him as a housebreaker and thief known for “[disposing] of stolen property to patrons of hotel bars or to persons in the street...professing to be a secondhand dealer.” Although he was said to “consort with prostitutes” and frequent “hotels and wine bars in the vicinity of the Haymarket,” he was described as being of “quiet disposition.”
  • 
<h1>Sidney Langby</h1>
<h3>Dec. 9, 1924 / location unknown</h3>
Langby, 18, was arrested for stealing watches, clothing and money from shops and with stealing a motorcycle and sidecar. He received 18 months of hard labor on each charge.
  • 
<h1>Daniel Ligores</h1>
<h3>November 1920 / probably Darlinghurst Police Station</h3>
Enraged over his wife’s participation in a Surry Hills-based “free love religious cult” (called “Abode of Love” or “Free Love Mission” by newspapers, and “Apostolic Faith Mission” by its leader), Ligores, a Salvation Army cook, shot Gertrude Grace Ligores dead at the mission.
  • 
<h1>Giuseppe Mammone</h1>
<h3>Feb. 15, 1930 / possibly Darlinghurst Police Station</h3>
Mammone was presumably interviewed and photographed in connection with the stabbing death of Domenico Belle four days earlier. On that day, Belle had attempted to collect a debt of 15 pounds from Mammone, who ran a barbershop. Mammone had previously served time in Buffalo, N.Y., for manslaughter. Newspaper stories of the time repeatedly referred to Mammone as the main suspect in Belle slaying, but he was not charged.
  • 
<h1>Masterman Thomas Scoringe</h1>
<h3>Nov. 29, 1922 / Central Police Station, Sydney</h3>
Scoringe was a housebreaker who escaped from custody in the mid 1920s and conducted a crime rampage targeting the residences of Chinese people in Sydney.
  • 
<h1>Patrick Riley, <em>alias Matthew Edward Riley</em></h1>
<h3>Aug. 11, 1924 / location unknown</h3>
Patrick Riley was convicted in October 1924 of making counterfeit coins and of possessing a coining mold; he was sentenced to two years hard labor.
  • 
<h1>Henry Reid</h1>
<h3>Jan. 7, 1930 / Central Police Station, Sydney</h3>
No entry for Reid appears in the police gazette for this date, but he is listed nine months later as having been released following a conviction for assault and for unlawfully supplying cocaine. The blacksmith is described as five-foot-seven and of “fresh” complexion.
  • 
<h1>Harris Hunter</h1>
<h3>Sept. 17, 1924 / Central Police Station, Sydney</h3>
The police gazette lists Hunter as being charged, along with another man, with receiving stolen goods (valued at 536 pounds 4 shillings and 1 penny) from Snow’s department store.
  • 
<h1>Thomas Sutherland Jones & <br>William Smith</h1>
<h3>July 15, 1921 / Central Police Station, Sydney</h3>
The gazette reports the men as being charged with stealing seven packages of twine. Jones was also charged with stealing thirty horse rugs and two bales of kapok. Smith was fined 20 pounds; Jones was sentenced to 18 months hard labor, suspended.
  • 
<h1>Phillip Henry Ross</h1>
<h3>Circa 1926 / possibly Darlinghurst Police Station</h3>
No details given.
  • 
<h1>Walter Keogh</h1>
<h3>Feb. 9, 1922 / Central Police Station, Sydney</h3>
Walter Keogh appears in a 1923 gazette photo supplement as a pickpocket and in 1928 as a “suspected person and bogus land salesman.”
  • 
<h1>B. Moody</h1>
<h3>Circa 1919 / Newtown Court</h3>
No entry for a “B. Moody” is found in the gazette during this period.
  • 
<h1>Eddie McMillan, John Frederick “Chow” Hayes & Thomas Esmond Bollard</h1>
<h3>Nov. 6, 1930 / Central Police Station, Sydney</h3>
Though details are unknown about what crimes may have lead to the men's arrest and this photo, Hayes would become known for the 1951 shooting of boxer William “Bobby” John Lee. The boxer refused to identify Hayes before he died of his injuries.

These mug shots from the 1920s and ’30s document the dawning of a new era in Australian criminology—razor gangs, which sprang up as the country was illegalizing the previously rampant drugs, prostitution, gambling and guns. Thugs began using razors as their weapon of choice in the hopes of evading heightened sentences. The photos are from a collection of about 2,500 “special photographs” taken by New South Wales Police Department—special in that we’re sure you’ll agree these are a far cry from today’s definition of jailhouse portraits.


PHOTO CREDITS: Images from NSW Police Forensic Archive, Justice & Police Museum, Historic Houses Trust of NSW. The images also appear in the books Crooks Like Us and City of Shadows, by Peter Doyle