A MASKED robber tried to hold up a shop assistant with a handgun.

Detectives are investigating the armed robbery at Colliers newsagents in Hamlet Court Road, Westcliff, which took place yesterday at about 2.15pm.

A man entered the store in a grey Addidas tracksuit and grey Halloween style wolf mask.

He pointed to gun at the shopkeeper as he stood behind the counter and demanded he opened the till and give him the money.

But he refused to hand over anything and following a brief confrontation the attempted robber left the store empty handed, turning right out of the shop towards the seafront.

The suspect was seen to run down Anerley Road then into Ceylon Road car park and out onto Ceylon Road.

He is described as white, aged between 17 to 21 years old, local Southend accent, 5ft 6ins tall and a skinny build. He held a black hand gun.

Dc Vicky Caine said: "The young shopkeeper was convinced it was not a real gun and was probably a gas replica. It was a brave thing to do to refuse to hand over anything, however we would not normally recommend that anyone tackles or refuses to co-operate as your safety is more important."

Anyone who can help police identify the man responsible, or witnessed any part of the incident is urged to contact Dc Vicky Caine at Southend CID on 101 or via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.