The course of justice was halted in full flow when a burglar put up his hand and pleaded with a top judge to “stop for just two minutes while I nip to the toilet”.
The request came halfway through the Appeal Court’s ruling in the case of Scott Richard Wilson, who was jailed for three years in June for raiding a pub in Sunderland.
Wilson, 25, was watching the appeal in London by live video link from prison when he was dramatically caught short.
The frantic inmate tentatively put his hand up to attract the attention of top judges, Mr Justice Foskett and Mr Justice Spencer.
But Mr Justice Foskett was too immersed in his judgment to notice Wilson’s plea to spend a penny.
Wilson was by now fidgeting in his seat and his hand was fully raised.
But it took the promptings of a vigilant shorthand writer and court clerk to finally alert the judge to Wilson’s plight.
Mr Justice Foskett stopped in mid-sentence and politely asked if Wilson wanted to say something.
“Your honour, could you please stop for just two minutes while I nip to the toilet?” he asked. “I have serious bladder problems.”
“Of course,” said the judge - who was clearly surprised but quite unruffled.
The court duly paused for several minutes until the relieved prisoner returned to his seat.
“All right?” the judge asked. “Yes, thank you your honour,” replied Wilson.
The case resumed and Wilson ended the hearing doubly relieved after the two judges cut six months off his sentence.
He and an accomplice, Darren Trueman, burgled the Gleneagles pub in Sunderland in January, intending to carry out an attack on a man against whom Trueman held a grudge.
But they were surprised after bursting in by an entirely innocent man who happened to live above the pub.
Their victim was savagely bludgeoned to the head by Trueman, causing devastating injuries.
Wilson, of Palmerston Road, Pennywell, Sunderland, was jailed after he admitted burgarly with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.
Trueman, of Partick Road, Pennywell, received a five-year sentence for his role in the sickening attack.
Wilson challenged his three-year term with claims that it was far too harsh in light of his guilty plea.
Mr Justice Foskett said Wilson had made “real efforts to make progress” behind bars, also noting that he suffers from depression.
The judge cut his sentence from three to two and a half years.