A convicted burglar who was caught behind the wheel of a VW a few months after he was banned from driving was branded a fool.

But Judge Jason Taylor QC stopped short of activating Leonard Murataj’s 20 month suspended prison sentence after learning he’d successfully completed a curfew and 200 hours of unpaid work.

Instead, he ordered the 39-year-old to pay £700 in fines and costs, do another 200 hours of community service and do 15 days’ worth of rehabilitation to “help him think more clearly rather than so impulsively”.

The judge said: “You were a complete fool. You’d only been banned from driving in October 2019 for drink driving. Apart from that court order at the age of 39 you should have known better.”

Murataj was spared an immediate prison sentence in 2018, when he was convicted of burgling the Headlands Grove house of a recently-bereaved pair of brothers.

One of the siblings returned to the home in June 2018 to find “utter carnage” with drawers pulled out by the house breaker.

The raider took three watches, six gold rings, cameras and £900 in cash.

Murataj admitted burglary on the basis that he had only helped the real thief access the property. He had been drunk and was paid £300 in return for his help in burgling the house. He was sorry for what he did.

The crown court heard the following October he was given a roads ban after he was convicted of drink driving.

And in February a police community support officer on patrol in Penhill recognised him driving a VW Golf along Penhill Drive. The car was stopped in Turnpike Road by other officers who also recognised the driver.

Murataj, who was driving with his wife and 12-year-old son in the car, initially gave false details to the officers but later admitted his true identity.

Told he was being arrested for driving while disqualified, he said to officers: “What have I done? I only had a few months left.”

Murataj, of Latton Close, Penhill, pleaded guilty to driving while disqualified and no insurance. He admitted breaching his suspended sentence order.

Emma Handslip, defending, said her client told her he couldn’t believe he’d been so stupid. “The irony is he was actually driving the car to a garage to get rid of it.”

She said he had completed all the requirements under his previous suspended sentence order. He was currently working in a car wash and looking after his 12-year-old son.