AN irrational terror of immigration authorities drove a Filipino maid to try to stab her flatmate before leaping to her death from an eighth-storey window. Ironically, Milagros Santos, 33, was in no danger from the authorities - she was in the territory legally. The Immigration Department questioned Santos and her best friend a week earlier to ensure that the women were not moonlighting as restaurant workers. 'After the inquiry we decided not to take action against her,' immigration officer Lung Kin-sing told the inquest. Santos' employer, Man Mei-yee, said her maid appeared terrified as they approached Mr Lung's office. 'She gesticulated to me as if she was going to commit suicide,' Ms Man said, mock-slashing her wrists and neck with a finger. Lorna Abad said that the immigration inquiry had triggered a drastic change in her flatmate's demeanour. 'She was very depressed and would perform her duties absent-mindedly,' Ms Abad told the inquest. 'She mentioned that she was scared that she might be taken to the police station. I told her that I did not think we would be detained. Neither of us are illegal workers.' The jury yesterday reached a verdict of death by suicide. 'We agree that this is a tragedy caused by lack of understanding of immigration laws,' the foreman said. On May 24, Ms Abad was preparing food when her flatmate suddenly rushed at her, brandishing a steel bar. She rammed her best friend in the abdomen, then snatched up a chopper and began waving it over Ms Abad's head. 'She tried to stab me,' Ms Abad told Coroner Warner Banks. 'I don't know why she would react like this. She then said, 'I love you. I don't mean to hurt you' - those were the last words she said to me.' The next day, Santos leapt to her death. The domestic worker was perched on top of the air-conditioning unit outside an eighth-floor window when Yuen Long police sergeant Mak Siu-wah arrived on the scene. He tried desperately to lure her back inside, telling Santos 'not to look at her life in a set way'. But she made no reply. 'She was quite calm. She took a look at the ground and then she jumped.' She died of multiple injuries on the podium of the Yuen Long building. Santos had been in Hong Kong since 1974.