A FORMER Wallingford Town Councillor has said he will appeal his conviction for slashing a taxi tyre as it was a ‘ridiculous’ set-up.

Matthew Cockman, who is also a local businessman, was last month told to pay £400 by Oxford Magistrates Court, after being convicted of causing criminal damage.

Upon being asked to comment on the conviction, the 31-year-old claimed he is innocent, adding that it was a ‘shame’ the Herald could not find anything better to write about.

He went on to claim that the entire incident was made up and that he was not allowed to see CCTV footage ‘until five minutes before’ the trial.

The former councillor, who resigned in July, was found to have caused criminal damage worth £45.59 to the taxi of driver Raleigh Hullock on January 23.

Mr Hullock says he is the only taxi service in Oxford to offer a wheelchair accessible service and that he was unable to take a customer to a hospital appointment as a result of the damage.

Mr Hullock, who says there were witnesses to the tyre slashing, claims the incident took place moments after an altercation between himself and Mr Cockman, who he said had barged into him.

He added: “I am just appalled that someone can be so petty minded.

“He tried to say the CCTV evidence could have been from a different day.”

Mr Cockman said he did not offer a defence in court because he was not ‘prepared’ for the trial, as he expected it to be adjourned.

He explained: “It was all ridiculous – they hadn’t done what they should have done.

“People try and cut you down just for trying to do good stuff. It is all a lie.

“The reason I got found guilty is because I did not think (the trial would go ahead).”

Mr Cockman first said he was unsure whether he would appeal, then that it was ‘highly likely’ and finally that he definitely would appeal, in one conversation with the Herald.

He added that a ‘rival business’ was behind the ‘vindictive’ allegation but would not clarify which one.

Mr Cockman is listed on Companies House as a director of the Partridge Inn, but his current role in the business is unclear. The Partridge did not respond to questions from the Herald or answer phone calls.

In 2015, Mr Cockman hit out at burglars who smashed into the hotel and stole various goods.

He told the Oxford Mail: “We will not be letting something like this affect us. We are better than that.”

Mr Cockman appeared at Oxford Magistrates’ Court on Monday, November 26.

The court said Mr Cockman was fined £100 and ordered to pay £100 compensation and £200 costs to the Crown Prosecution Service for the criminal damage to the tyre. He was not made to pay a victim surcharge.

Wallingford Mayor Lee Upcraft commented: “Matt Cockman and I were both elected at the same election in September 2016 and as long term resident of the town, it was clear from the outset that he wanted serve in the best interests of Wallingford. He was passionate about improving tourism and was a key driver in bringing about the Agatha Christie statue. I am aware that he faced some personal challenges in his life and I hope that this conviction will enable him and his family to move on.” I wish him and his family well.”