Former drugs smuggler, writer and physicist 'Mr Nice' dies aged 70

Howard Marks in 2006 Credit: PA

An Oxford University educated former drugs smuggler described as a "true modern-day folk hero" has died at the age of 70.

Howard Marks, who was known as Mr Nice, was sentenced to 25 years in one of America's toughest prisons for smuggling cannabis in 1988.

Before that he gained a degree in nuclear physics and post-graduate qualifications in philosophy at Oxford University.

Actor Rhys Ifans, who played Howard Marks in the film Mr Nice Credit: PA/Ian West

He released an autobiography called Mr Nice, and in 2010 a film about his life was released starring fellow Welshman Rhys Ifans.

Marks had a monthly column at Loaded magazine for five years, and his friend and former colleague there, James Brown, told the Guardian he was a "true modern-day folk hero", who had done "so many funny, shocking, illegal things".

Marks announced he had inoperable bowel cancer last year.

Mr Nice

  • Born in 1945 in Kenfig Hill near Bridgend

  • Attended Oxford University gaining a degree in nuclear physics

  • Spent years living under 43 different aliases as he smuggled cannabis

  • Sentenced to 25 years at Terre Haute prison in Indiana in 1988

  • Released on parole in 1995

  • Stood for parliament on single issue of legalising cannabis