A HAMPSHIRE taxi driver has told how he was punched in the face and stabbed in the leg after refusing to hand over his takings.

Steve Mason described the traumatic moment a passenger plunged a blade into his thigh after ordering him to stop at a remote spot in the middle of the night.

Having failed to grab any cash the would-be robber ran off, leaving the fillet knife embedded in his victim’s leg.

Mr Mason, owner of Cavendish Executive Cars, said: “A passenger got into my Skoda Octavia in Botley Road, Romsey, just after 1.30am on New Year’s Day and asked to go to Awbridge.

“He asked me if I’d had a busy night. Looking back I think he was trying to find out if I’d taken much money.

“We turned into Danes Road and were in the middle of nowhere when he told me to pull over and demanded to know where I kept my money.

“When I told him he wasn’t having my takings he punched me in the face several times and then produced a knife.”

Mr Mason, a 59-year-old father of two, added: “I’m quite a big bloke but I was absolutely petrified.

“As he brought his arm down he cut my hand and then stabbed me in the leg, which was incredibly painful.

“After that he got out of the car and disappeared into the night. I didn’t see which way he went - I was more concerned with the injury to my leg.

“I took the knife out and put my hand on the wound to try to stem the flow of blood.

“What gives anyone the right to try to steal someone else’s hard-earned takings? All he’s done is cause a lot of grief to me and my family without any gain to himself.”

A police spokesman added: “This is a rare and unusual incident that may well have been opportunistic.”

The knifeman is described as white, aged in his mid-twenties, about 5ft 10in, slim to medium build, with short brown hair. He was wearing a long black jacket, a dark-coloured shirt and jeans.

Anyone with information should ring Hampshire police on 101 or call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.