A BANNED driver took a clapped out banger for a 3am 'test drive' on a Greenock east end street and it burst into flames.

Michael Coyle got behind the wheel of the 15-year-old car and smoke began billowing from it within seconds.

Coyle, 24, claimed afterwards that he didn't know that the ill-fated run on Sinclair Street breached his disqualification.

The town's sheriff court heard how firefighters dashed to the blazing Vauxhall Astra convertible in the early hours of May 25.

Defence lawyer Edel McGinty said: "The seriousness of the offence is not lost on him, given his record.

"He had been fixing up the car in preparation for the end of his disqualification period and he drove it to the end of the road.

"It was not roadworthy and smoke started coming out and it went on fire."

Miss McGinty added: "It was a moment of recklessness. He was testing the car to see if it was roadworthy.

"He didn't consider that going out on the street for a few moments would breach his disqualification.

"The author of the background report feels that there is work that can be done with Mr Coyle."

Prosecutor David Glancy said: "Police spoke to a male and female who were standing at the vehicle.

"The female indicated that the male had been driving and that he had no licence.

"The accused's details were checked and it was noted that he is a disqualified driver.

"He made no reply when cautioned and charged."

Sheriff Daniel Kelly said: "This is a serious matter and custody is an option, however, I am persuaded that this can be dealt with by way of a community-based disposal."

Coyle, of King Street, Port Glasgow, was placed under supervision for 18 months, ordered to complete 120 hours of unpaid work and banned from the roads for a further 15 months.