A GUNMAN who attempted to rob a woman in Verwood fled empty handed when she screamed.

The attempted robbery happened outside Morrisons supermarket on Friday at 7.25pm.

Police say a 59-year-old woman from Wimborne thwarted the man when she refused to hand over her money after he threatened her with a handgun as she got into her silver car.

Police visited pubs and residents and scanned the area using the force helicopter but were unable to capture the gunman.

Bushes on Chiltern Drive were also cordoned off by police.

The gunman was white, aged 30 to 40, of medium build and spoke with a northern accent.

He was clean shaven and wearing a black woollen hat, dark jumper, black gilet and black woollen gloves.

A police cordon was in place on Friday evening following the incident and the victim’s car was taken for forensic tests.

Detective Inspector Jock Mullen, of Bournemouth CID, said: “This was a very distressing incident for the victim but she bravely raised the alarm and was uninjured.

“I urge anyone who witnessed this attack, and anyone who saw someone matching this description near to the Morrisons store or running away from it, to call police as soon as possible.

“I am also appealing for anyone in the area who has private CCTV from the time of the incident or before or after to contact Dorset Police urgently.”

Shocked residents fear the Verwood robber had been hiding and waiting for one of the cashpoint users or shoppers who park on the road to avoid going into the supermarket car park.

Ainslie Atyeo lives close by and was in The Swans pub next to the supermarket when it happened.

“It’s a bit close to home,” he said. “There were police all around and the helicopter was in the air.

“It’s obvious the robber was hiding in the hedges.”

A Dorset Police spokesman said that they are not at the present time linking this incident with a gunman who struck three times in the New Forest last month, but are “keeping an open mind”.

On December 5 a gunman forced a motorist at Brockenhurst Railway Station to drive to a cashpoint and withdraw money.

Police suspect the same man robbed a couple in Lymington and kidnapped the woman in their car before returning her home on December 14.

And officers have also been looking into whether that same man held up a Highcliffe Post Office on December 18.

Anyone with information can call Dorset Police in confidence on 101 quoting incident number 404/4 Crimestoppers line 0800 555 111.