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Police step up hunt for New Forest gunman on anniversary of his first crime
HE was the masked gunman who brought terror to two Hampshire communities.
The sinister figure struck twice within days, kidnapping the owner of a Porsche 911 at a busy railway station before subjecting a 64-year-old woman to a similar ordeal a week later.
The Crimestoppers charity offered a £5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Hampshire's most wanted man.
Four people were arrested in connection with the robberies but no charges were ever brought.
Now police have marked the first anniversary of the initial hold-up by launching a new attempt to catch the gunman, who told one of his victims he was married with a baby daughter.
Detectives are carrying out a fresh round of house-to-house enquiries in the areas where the armed robberies were carried out.
The first happened at 6.30am on December 5, 2012. A Porsche driver parked his vehicle at Brockenhurst station and was confronted by the robber, who forced him back into the vehicle.
He was told to drive to the HSBC bank in the village and ordered to withdraw several hundred pounds.
After handing over the cash and driving to a remote car park in Rhinefield Road, Brockenhurst, he was ordered out of the car by his assailant, who stole the vehicle and abandoned it in nearby Sway Road.
The second robbery occurred nine days later on December 14 at 9.30am.
Janice Grabau, 64, of Rookes Lane, Lymington, was about to drive to the hairdressers when the gunman marched up her driveway and held a gun to her temple.
Dressed in a fluorescent jacket and wearing plastic goggles he robbed the couple of £100 before taking Mrs Grabau hostage After frogmarching the ex-nurse to her car he sped off in the direction of Everton, near New Milton, before driving her home via back roads, confirming police suspicions that he must be local.
Speaking exclusively to the Daily Echo a few days later, Mrs Grabau told how she refused to be intimidated.
She said: “It didn't take me long to realise he had a gun against my head and I just said to him 'look, I don't have time for this. I've got a very busy day with lots to do'. I was so angry.
“He said he didn't want to do what he was doing, that he had a wife and small baby daughter.”
Janice revealed that she and her 70-year-old husband argued over who should be the hostage while the gunman stood in front of them, waving his arms about.
She told him: “This is totally rubbish. Call yourself a criminal? You are the worst criminal I have ever encountered.”
The couple's ordeal ended after Janice lost her temper and gave the gunman his marching orders.
She said: “I told him 'just go away. I don't want to see you again'. Then I wished him a happy Christmas and off he went in my car.”
At one stage the gunman was also suspected of robbing a post office in Highcliffe, Dorset.
Today a police spokesman said: “Despite extensive enquiries police have not been able to trace the man responsible but are continuing to follow up leads.
“Officers are carrying out anniversary visits to properties around Tilebarn Lane, Brockenhurst, to speak to local people and see if any of them saw the man as evidence shows he remained in the area for sometime after committing the offence. It is also likely passers-by at the time would have seen him.”
Police have produced new posters appealing for information. They have also re-issued an artist's impression of the robber, along with an enhanced audio clip of his voice, which was recorded as he threatened to take Mrs Grabau hostage.
The gunman is described as white, 5ft 10in- 6ft, aged 40-55 and of slim to medium build.
Police have drawn up a list of what he wore during the two robberies. His clothing included a beanie hat, an open-faced balaclava and a fluorescent sleeveless yellow top. He also had a black rucksack with a blue stripe down the middle.
Ring Det Con Steven Norridge at the Hampshire Major Investigation Team on 101 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
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