Two respectable families, living just yards away from one another in a wealthy village, were caught in the middle of a tragedy fuelled by drugs and lavish lifestyles.

Thais Portilho-Shrimpton looks at the families inextricably linked by the tragic death of Matthew Demko.

The Demko family

Nick and Lorraine Demko, Matthew Demko's parents, had moved to a house in Ashtead Woods Road, in leafy Ashtead, in 2005, with Matthew’s younger brother and sister, Tom and Emily.

Matthew was a popular young man in Ashtead, who was living in a rented room in Epsom at the time of his death, but was constantly in Ashtead and Leatherhead, going out with friends and visiting the family.

Matthew and Michael Jordan made friends and had a very similar lifestyle, going to parties and clubs most weekends, wearing expensive clothes and sharing the habit of using and dealing drugs.

Matthew was a landscape gardener and, according to his family in a tribute released by Surrey Police a few months after his death, "when he got his job doing grounds maintenance he started out doing basic jobs like cutting grass but he worked hard and he made his way up in the company."

Back then, Mr and Mrs Demko also told an anecdote of how Matthew once saved a little girl who had a fit while swimming when he was a lifeguard at Leatherhead Leisure Centre.

After his death, his parents set up a charitable fund called In Memory of Matt to raise money for things their son was passionate about. In October, about 50 people in fancy dress and decorated cars drove from Ashtead to Brighton and raised around £900 for the fund.

A Facebook group was created days after his death and has over 500 members, among friends and family.

A keen rugby player, Matthew was once in the same team as England rugby star Paul Hodgson at Sutton and Epsom Rugby Club's under 15s.

He won a sports scholarship to study at Pangbourne College, a boarding school for 11 to 18-year-olds.

Like any other man in his early twenties, he would go on nights out, music festivals and gigs with his mates, almost every weekend.

His lifestyle was that of a wealthy young man and it translated in gestures such as buying his sister Emily a Gucci bracelet when she turned 17, because "he wanted to do something special for her," according to his parents.

But Matthew's involvement with drugs brought immense pain to his family with his death, and also saw his mother on the receiving end of some embarassing accusations.

A court heard that after Matthew's death, his mother called his best friend, Martyn Goody, and asked him to go to her son's flat, in Gainsborough Road, Epsom, and make sure there was nothing "that should not be there."

Mr Goody told the jury, when giving evidence during the trial, he went there and grabbed two mobile phones and a tick list with names and contacts of people who owed Michael drugs money. The court was told he was then asked by Mrs Demko to burn the list.

According to Mr Goody, although Mrs Demko never mentioned drugs, she was aware of her son's involvement with them. Mrs Demko did not have the chance to deny the claims in court.

Matthew was laid to rest at St Giles Church, in Ashtead, in June.

The Jordan family

Michael Jordan's parents Stephen and Lisa moved to Links Road, in Ashtead, 17 years ago with Michael and his sisters Eva and Samantha.

They were known to be a very warm and welcoming family, who always had parties and dinners attended by friends and neighbours.

Michael's sisters used to babysit for one of their neighbours and so did he, occasionally. They were known as a happy and caring family, whose house was always open.

At some point during Michael and Mr Demko's friendship, his older sister Eva even considered renting Mr Demko one of the rooms in the Links Road house where she was living, at a time when Mr and Mrs Jordan lived three houses down the road.

But she gave up the idea of sharing when her parents decided to extend the house so the rest of the family would move in together, and moved to a flat in Epsom with her boyfriend.

Both sisters went to university and Michael was due to start a temporary admin job at Surrey County Council before Mr Demko died in the family’s garage, in Ashtead.

Although he has never been to college after finishing school, at 16, his father said he was a very bright young man.

Michael worked as a football coach for a local sports club and played football with his mates frequently.

He was also a "big spender" who liked expensive designer clothes and nights out, and although rescued by his father from a £4,000 bank and credit card debt once, at the time of Mr Demko's death, he was already £6,000 in debt.

After April 4 last year, their lives changed dramatically. With Mr Demko's death in their property's garage and Michael's arrest as the main suspect of the crime, the Jordan family’s life started falling apart.

Mrs Jordan and her family created appeal posters a couple of weeks after the death and distributed them to neighbours and around Ashtead in the hope that someone would come forward with information that could help the case. At the time Michael had already been charged with murder and remanded in custody, awaiting trial. He was cleared by the jury on Thursday.

Five months down the line, the Jordan family suffered another blow. Mr Jordan, who was said to have been depressed after his son's arrest, was hit by a train at Ashtead station, in September, leaving his wife and two daughters to cope with his death and Michael's murder charge and trial.

Michael was acquitted, but his family might never recover from the tragic events of the last year.