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1984: DeLorean cleared of drugs charges

Former car maker John DeLorean has been cleared of all charges against him at his drug trafficking trial in Los Angeles.

The jury of six men and six women reached unanimous verdicts on all eight counts after nearly 29 hours of deliberations.

Mr DeLorean's wife, the model Christina Ferrare, sobbed with joy as the verdicts were read out.

Mr DeLorean was arrested in October 1982 and charged with conspiring to smuggle $24m (15m) worth of cocaine into the US.

The FBI claimed he wanted the money to bail out his bankrupt car plant in northern Ireland.

The acquittal will be seen a major embarrassment for the prosecution which had seemed to have a water-tight case.


"Would you buy a used car from me?"

John DeLorean

A key element of its evidence was a videotape showing Mr DeLorean discussing the drugs deal with undercover FBI agents.

During the trial Mr DeLorean's lawyer argued that his client had been 'entrapped'.

He said the agents had cajoled Mr DeLorean into a position that made it look as if he had committed a crime.

After the verdict Mr DeLorean thanked those who had helped him and said it was "a miracle" the truth had come out.

"Perhaps somehow we can get the laws changed and the codes of conduct changed so that this can't happen to other people," Mr DeLorean said.

"If that truly happens then maybe all of this has been for a worthwhile and constructive purpose."

But he told reporters he felt bitter about the damage done to his reputation as a businessman, joking "would you buy a used car from me?"

Mr DeLorean must now wait and see whether the FBI succeeds in bringing fraud and tax evasion charges against him in connection with his Northern Ireland car plant.

In Context
Former General Motors high-flyer John DeLorean opened his Belfast car plant in 1978 with financial support from the British Government to the tune of 80m.

The plant, which employed over 2,500 people, produced a revolutionary stainless steel sports car with "gull-wing" doors.

But a lack of demand for the car - the DMC-12 - led the company to bankruptcy in 1982.

However, the DMC-12 did achieve celluloid fame after its starring role as a time machine in the film series 'Back to the Future'.

In 1990 John DeLorean was ordered by a US court to sell his New Jersey mansion and estate to pay back the 20m he still owed to creditors.

In 2004, the Northern Ireland Audit Office revealed it had spent more than 20m trying to recover some of the public money invested in the failed car company.

John DeLorean died in March 2005, aged 80.


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