A YOUNG dad has been scarred for life after racist thugs slashed his face as his five-year-old son watched in terror.

Doctors said Reece Johnson would have died if the wound been just a couple of millimetres longer.

He was walking past the entrance to Bobby Heywood Park, in Great Lever, with his son and a friend when he was targeted by a mob of 20 thugs.

The 23-year-old, who was returning home from Blackpool after a day out with pals, said the Asian gang claimed to be avenging the murder of a 19- year-old in the same park in November, 2007.

They were referring to the death of Seffar Khan who was killed by two teenagers who repeatedly stamped on his head.

Mr Johnson, of Rigby Court, Great Lever, said: “They were saying ‘you killed one of ours’ meaning white people killed an Asian lad.

“They attacked me because of the colour of my skin. They were very racist.”

The incident happened at around 10.45pm on Saturday.

Mr Johnson was with his son, Tyrel, and a friend when they walked towards the gang, who were outside the park’s Lever Street entrance.

One of the men stood in front of the trio and said “What’s up?”

Mr Johnson said the man was acting aggressively and the group was swearing and hurling racist abuse.

He added: “I did say something racist back.

But I have nothing against any religion and I have Asian friends. I only said something back in the heat of the moment.

The lads who attacked me have no respect. My little son was with me — he’s five years old.

“He was traumatised.

He was screaming, clinging on to one of my friend’s legs.

“I saw one of them in front of me with a small hand knife. 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.”

Medical staff told Mr Johnson that if the blade had continued another few millimetres then it would have hit his jugular vein.

He added: “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.”

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 in Farnworth.

Doctors told him he would be scarred for life.

Mr Johnson is currently looking for work as a labourer.

He said: “I’ve no idea what I’m going to do for interviews. People might look at me and think I’m a violent thug.”

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.

He added: “He 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 police spokesman said: “An argument broke out and during this, the man was slashed across the left cheek, suffering a six-inch wound.”

A 16-year-old was arrested but later released without charge.

Anyone with information should call Bolton CID on 0161 856 5740 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.