A former pet shop worker murdered his colleague during a robbery and later confessed to the killing, a court heard.
Arthur Brumhill, 76, was brutally beaten to death at the Northampton pet shop where he worked on January 21 1993.
The body of the "gentle, timid" victim - who had 26 injuries including skull fractures - was found coated in straw the following morning by another shop worker.
Stuart Jenkins, who was 17 at the time of the alleged killing, was arrested and questioned in connection with the murder in 1993 and admitted the crime to a friend, the court heard.
But jurors were told police took no further action at the time as there was no forensic evidence connecting Jenkins to the scene.
Former Army sergeant Jenkins was re-arrested in 2015 following a review of evidence in the case and Northampton Crown Court heard his fingerprints were found on the bag which had contained straw.
Opening the case for the prosecution, James House QC said: "An old man called Arthur Brumhill was brutally beaten to death with a weapon.
"Of particular note was the killer covered Mr Brumhill's body with straw taken from a bag in the pet shop.
"A large empty plastic bag was still present on the top of a rabbit hutch adjacent to Mr Brumhill's body.
"The defendant's fingerprints have since been discovered on the bag... on the point where the bag was ripped open."
Four fingerprints were found on the bag of straw in a line next to where it was opened, Mr House said, with two of the prints matching Jenkins and two others considered to have "insufficient detailing".
The court heard Jenkins, 41, of Ossett in West Yorkshire, had worked at the Wellingborough Road shop for six weeks until November 1992, leaving because "he failed to impress his employer".
Mr House told the jury of six men and six women that Jenkins admitted to two people that he was responsible for the murder.
He said: "In the summer of 1994, Jenkins had admitted to her he was responsible for the murder of the man in the pet shop.
"At the time, she did not know anything about it and she dismissed what he was saying as a foolish joke."
When he was re-arrested, Jenkins told officers the alleged admission to his friend in 1993 was "said in jest".
Defending, William Harbage QC said: "It's not as simple as the prosecution are trying to make out.
"There are a lot of alternative explainations here. There are a lot of unknowns."
Jenkins denies murder and the trial is expected to last around two weeks. The case was adjourned until Tuesday.