A Bradford man, who has served more than 15 years of a life sentence for murder, was today enjoying his first day of freedom after the Law Lords ruled he had been wrongly convicted.

And as Donald Pendleton experienced his first moments of liberty since his arrest in 1985, he confessed: "I never thought I would see the outside again."

Mr Pendleton, now 56, and his co-defendant John Thorpe were convicted of murdering Telegraph & Argus seller Nobby Clark, whose body was discovered in Bradford Beck in 1971.

The pair were arrested when the investigation was reopened in 1985 after detectives received fresh information from a convicted villain about the 15-year-old crime. Mr Pendleton was jailed for life following a trial at Leeds Crown Court in July 1986

Ever since, Mr Pendleton, formerly of Brandon Clough, Buttershaw, has maintained his innocence despite losing two earlier legal battles to clear his name.

But in a bitter irony for him, Thorpe, formerly of Dorchester Crescent, Holme Wood, Bradford, who did not contest his conviction, was released from prison on parole some years ago.

Mr Pendleton's fight for justice ended in the House of Lords - the country's highest appeal court - where five Law Lords unanimously quashed the conviction against him.

Law experts believe that the landmark case could mean dozens of other convictions upheld by the Court of Appeal might have to be re-examined after the Law Lords made clear in their ruling that if appeal court judges think that a jury would have a reasonable doubt on a case because of fresh evidence they should refer it for re-trial.

After the hearing, his solicitor Jim Nichol, said the original case had hinged on police interviews made immediately after his arrest.

He said that Mr Pendleton, who was held for three days without a solicitor, originally told officers he was not at the scene of the murder.

But later, he changed his account to "get them off his back", saying he was with John Thorpe when he killed Mr Clark, but had not been involved himself.

Mr Nichol said: "The moment he saw a lawyer he told them he was nowhere near the scene. He explained that he had told the police officers whatever they wanted to hear because he was under so much pressure."

But, throughout the 1986 trial, Mr Pendleton's barristers had taken the "extraordinary" action of sticking to this false story, believing it was his best chance of being cleared, said Mr Nichol.

Yesterday the court heard how a forensic psychologist had described Mr Pendleton as a "psychologically vulnerable individual" who was "highly susceptible to giving in to leading questions and interrogative pressure".

Judge Bingham said the jury had not been able to hear Mr Pendleton's true version of events and it was "impossible to be sure the conviction was safe".

As he left Garth prison, near Leyland, Lancashire, last night Mr Pendleton said he was "over the moon", adding: "I have always protested my innocence and fought this case from day one. But to this day I never thought I would see the outside again.

"You get to the stage where you think you will never win, you will never see the outside again.

"You get knocked back time and time again but I am delighted the House of Lords finally ruled in my favour."

Mr Pendleton said he planned to stay with a friend for a few days before deciding what to do with his life.

"I'm just looking forward to relaxing and trying to adapt to the world out here. I bet it must have changed in more than 16 years."

Mr Nichol, who alongside Michael Mansfield QC has fought many high-profile miscarriage of justices, called it a "landmark decision" and added: "To my knowledge this is the first time a serving life prisoner has been released by the House of Lords."

He said it would prevent the Court of Appeal "acting like a jury" and could see many cases re-heard.

Mr Nichol said he was seeking compensation for Mr Pendleton but added: "Money will never compensate what he has been through.