Daily Mail (London), May 5, 2010
A young father was slashed across the face as his five-year-old son looked on in what claimed was a random ‘anti-white’ revenge attack sparked by the murder of an Asian teenager.
Reece Johnson told how he and his son, Tyrel, were walking with Mr Johnson’s girlfriend when a mob of 20 Asian youths surrounded him.
He claims one of the youths said, ‘Your lot killed one of ours’, before he was set upon.
The attack ended when one of the gang sliced open his left cheek with a craft knife.
As Tyrel screamed in horror, his father was left reeling with a giant gaping wound in his face which later needed 68 stitches.
Police are investigating whether the attack was sparked by the murder of student Saffer Khan, 19, by two white youths in the same area more than two years ago.
Mr Johnson, a labourer from Great Lever, near Bolton, today said: ‘My face is a mess but the fact is I’m very lucky to be alive.
‘The doctors told me if the blade had continued another few millimetres then it would have hit my jugular vein. The nurse said it must have been a very sharp blade, like a razor.
‘She said another finger tip across my neck and that would have been it, I would have died. These guys picked on me for no other reason than because I was a white and killers of that young lad were white.
‘It’s just unbelievable. Obviously I had nothing to do with what happened to Mr Khan yet I was tarred with the same brush as the killers simply because of the colour of my skin.
‘I’m scarred for life now and people might look at me and think I?m a violent thug.’
Mr Johnson had been for a day out with the friends in Blackpool and was walking past the entrance of Bobby Heywood Park in Great Lever where Mr Khan was beaten to death by two teenagers in November 2007.
Mr Johnson said: ‘I was with my son and a girlfriend when this mob of 20 Asian youths came up to us. They were saying “Your lot killed one of ours”–meaning white people killed an Asian lad.
‘One of the guys was acting aggressively and the group was swearing and hurling racist abuse. They attacked me because of the colour of my skin. They were very racist.
‘I saw one of them in front of me with a small hand knife and I was watching him. But then another lad came at the side of me and punched me and that’s when I was slashed.
‘I was scared for my life. The lads who attacked me have no respect. My little son was with me–he’s five years old and he was traumatised.
‘He was screaming, clinging on to one of my friend’s legs.’
Mr Johnson was taken to a specialist facial unit at the Royal Blackburn Hospital on Saturday night. He was given 20 stitches inside his face and another 48 on the outside.
He left hospital at 6.30am on Sunday and is now recovering at his parents’ home.
The father-of-three said he and his girlfriend will now move home because they are scared to return to the area.
He said his son has been badly affected by the attack.
Mr Johnson added: ‘Tyrel was very upset, he was hysterical. He woke up the other night crying. That is not normal for him. There are people in the community that know who has done it but it is whether they are brave enough to admit it.’
A Greater Manchester police spokesman said: ‘The 23-year-old man had been out with his girlfriend when he was confronted by a group of up to 20 youths.
‘An argument broke out and during this, the man was slashed across the left cheek, suffering a six-inch wound. Inquiries are ongoing.’ A 16-year-old was arrested but later released without charge.
Mr Khan was kicked to death by 18-year old Joseph Booth who ripped off an electronic tag he had been ordered to wear as a condition of his early release from jail.
Manchester Crown Court was told in the hours before the killing Booth had been on a boozing spree and after downing cheap cider simply broke open the tag and threw it away.
As the authorities alerted by a fault on the tag began a search for Booth, the teenager and a 15-year old boy began prowling the park looking for a victim to mug and ambushed Mr Khan who was punched kicked and and had his head stamped on.
Booth and the 15-year old were later jailed for life for murder.