VANCOUVER -- A Bella Coola, B.C. man who has spent more than 30 years in jail for a crime he says he didn’t commit is going to be released on bail before an appeal of his case is heard.

Justice Elizabeth Bennett announced she would be releasing 54-year-old Phillip Tallio on bail during a hearing held Wednesday in the Court of Appeal in Vancouver. Bennett said she will deliver her reasons Thursday.

At the age of 17, Tallio pleaded guilty to the murder of 22-month-old Delavina Mack in 1983. The little girl had been sexually assaulted and smothered. Tallio has steadfastly maintained his innocence ever since, in spite of his plea.

One of Tallio’s lawyers, Rachel Barsky, delivered the news to her client over the phone outside the courthouse.

“He was actually crying. He couldn’t speak for several minutes, he couldn’t say anything at all,” Barsky said. “He was just ecstatic.”

Tallio’s lawyers initially applied for bail last summer, but their application was denied by the judge at that time. Barsky said the judge indicated she wanted “further supervision” of Tallio if released.

“That was the significant issue that arose on the first application, so Mr. Tallio was invited to re-apply,” Barsky said.

Tallio will now be living in a residential facility operated by the John Howard Society, with staff on site at all times. He will also have to abide by a number of conditions.

“He will have a strict curfew, there will be multiple checks on him in the facility, as there are with all residents there,” Barsky said. “He’s going to have extensive supports in terms of transitioning into the community.”

Barsky said Tallio has had tastes of the outside world through escorted temporary absences from jail over the past three decades, but said it’s hard to describe what being on bail will meant to him, calling it “something he has dreamed of for years.”

She said Tallio was eligible for parole ten years into his sentence, but never received it because he continued to maintain his innocence.

A lawyer representing the victim’s mother told CTV News Vancouver the family has concerns about his release, and added this has been very difficult for them.

Tallio’s appeal is set to be heard from March 30th to April 17th, with another week for submissions in June. It’s unclear when the court could issue a ruling.