A DISTRICT Court judge yesterday warned maids who feel they are being exploited that they must not take the law into their own hands. Lourdes Gerochi, 28, and Maribel Villanueva, 34, were jailed for five years for attacking their boss, insurance company manager Wong Lei-chun, with a chopper and robbing her after they were sacked and told to clear out of her Happy Valley flat. Defence lawyer for Gerochi, Alan So, told the court in mitigation that 'these two were being exploited by Ms Wong'. Gerochi had not been paid by her boss for four months, and the attack on July 7 was not pre-meditated, he said. Passing sentence, Judge Kilgour said although the lack of a proper work contract was a 'recipe for conflict', he could not condone the violent attack that left Ms Wong lying in a pool of blood in her bathtub. Resentment and tension had arisen from the Filipino maids' working conditions, but 'whether you felt there was a grievance or not, there was no excuse for this behaviour', he said. 'Disputes should be resolved properly by proper tribunals or resolved amicably.' He said: 'You both said, of course, that you were being exploited. But you, too, were trying to exploit the situation, remaining in Hong Kong illegally. 'And having done that, you tried to resolve your grievances in a completely uncivilised manner.' When the maids were employed by Ms Wong, he said, it was on an illegal basis. Villanueva was hired without a contract in March and was paid $3,500 a month. Soon after that, Gerochi came to live with her in Ms Wong's flat, also working as a part-time maid. No contracts were written or registered with the Immigration Department, he said. There was no doubt that the lack of a contract was 'a recipe for conflict'. 'It was apparent that after a few months, matters were unsatisfactory.' Both women were sentenced to 18 months' imprisonment for a joint wounding charge, and to 31/2 years for a joint robbery charge. Gerochi had pleaded guilty to the wounding charge, but not guilty to the assault. Villanueva had pleaded not guilty to both charges. They admitted to staying in Hong Kong illegally, for which they both received one month in jail. The terms will run concurrently.