The man accused of murdering Arthur Brumhill has spoken of his relief about being acquitted - but admitted there were moments he thought he would spend the rest of his life in prison.
Dad-of-three Stuart Jenkins was arrested at his workplace in Yorkshire back in May 2015 after newly discovered fingerprint evidence had emerged during a review of the previously cold case.
The 41-year-old was charged with the murder of Arthur Brumhil, a 76-year-old man he had worked alongside at Paul Denton Pet and Garden Supplies in Wellingborough Road, in 1993.
But today, following a two-week trial at Northampton Crown Court, the former soldier was found not guilty.
Speaking outside of the court for the first time since his arrest in 2015, Mr Jenkins said there were times when he felt the evidence was stacked against him.
The said: "That opening speech from the prosecution was very good, Mr (James) House (prosecuting), is a good barrister.
"Listening to stuff being said that you know you haven't done was hard. They put a spin on it in such a way, you think this could be it.
"Then you have a couple of interviews [on the stand] go against you, and you start to worry you know."
Mr Jenkins was only a boy of 17 when Arthur Brumhill was killed - a man he said he liked and never had any ill feeling towards.
Since the night of January 21, 1993, Mr Jenkins had gone on to serve in the army for 18 years, working his way up to sergeant after tours in Kosovo and Northern Ireland.
But it was the discovery of his fingerprints on a ripped bag of straw in the pet shop that led to his arrest in 2015. Police said that bag must have been prized open by the person who killed Arthur Brumhill because the 76-year-old's body was found covered in straw the following morning.
Mr Jenkins had worked in the store on a four-week placement back in 1992 and maintained throughout that he could have touched the bag at any point during that time.
He said: "I never denied that I touched that bag. I strongly believe it must have been found somewhere else in the shop.
"The police never once took photos of the barn area [where the bags of straw were stored].
"This could have all been sorted out in 1993. There were just too many people at that crime scene."
Mr Jenkins, who let out an audible gasp of relief when the not guilty verdict was read out by the jury foreman, said he will now have to work at getting his life back on track.
He had recently retrained as a turbine engineer, but the arrest led to him losing his job as an operations manager. Shortly after the arrest he spent five months in HMP Woodhill where he claims he had to keep his army record a secret through fear of repercussions from fellow inmates. He was eventually bailed.
His two youngest daughters, aged eight and 12, are still unaware that he was accused of murder, he said, adding that he has been staying at his sister's house in Northampton during the trial on a camp bed.
Speaking about the day of his arrest, he said: "My feet never touched the ground. They arrested me at work and told me it was over something that had happened 20 years or so ago."
His wife Louise, 32, said it neighbours back in Ossett, Yorkshire have not been "judgemental" during the trial.
"We never doubted Stuart," she said. "We always knew he was innocent."