A domestic helper was punched and grabbed around the neck by her employer after failing to follow her instructions to clean the oven, a court heard yesterday. Carmelita Cadungog, 38, told Western Court that on May 18 her then employer, Chu Sui-yee, hit her arms during an attack launched when she did not come out of her room as instructed. Chu, 40, a nurse at Ruttonjee Hospital, pleaded not guilty to assault occasioning actual bodily harm. She claims she acted in self-defence. The maid said she had been ironing the family's clothes in their home in Hing Hon Road, Western district, when Chu came back from work at 3.30pm. Ms Cadungog told Magistrate Katherine Lo that Chu asked her to come out of her room and clean the oven and she had responded by saying she would do so after finishing the ironing. She said Chu shouted at her and she leaned out of the room. Her former employer then grabbed her left wrist and punched her arms with both hands, the court heard. Ms Cadungog put up her arms in defence but Chu grabbed her neck firmly before pushing her in the chest, causing her back to hit the ironing board, she alleged. Ms Cadungog then fell to the floor, the court heard. But Chu told the court she only shouted when Ms Cadungog did not respond to her first request, thinking she had not heard her. She said she did not ask her to clean the oven immediately. Chu claimed that as Ms Cadungog did not respond to her requests, she intended to go into her room. 'But before I did that, she had already come out,' she told the court. 'She was holding the iron in one hand and a bunch of clothes-hangers in the other with an angry look on her face . . . I saw that the iron was still hot so I warded it off and grabbed her other hand.' She said she had not intended to hurt Ms Cadungog, although she admitted to using 'some force' as the maid was struggling vigorously. 'Her arms could have been bruised as I held on to them firmly,' Chu said. The maid told the court that after Chu had pushed her on to the floor, she closed the door and barred it with a drawer from under her bed. She then left the flat via a back door in her room and sought help from Gloria Pascual, who worked as a domestic helper in the same building. Ms Pascual told the court Ms Cadungog showed her the bruises on her arms and the scratch marks on her neck. She called the police and passed the receiver to Ms Cadungog. She then told Ms Cadungog to wait for the police on the ground floor. It was the first time Ms Cadungog had complained of being beaten, Ms Pascual said. Ms Cadungog was examined at Queen Mary Hospital and discharged. According to the medical report, she suffered scratches on her neck and bruised arms. The Filipina came to Hong Kong last October and Chu and her husband were her first employers. She said Chu was dissatisfied with her work and their relationship had been tense before the incident. Chu told the court Ms Cadungog was a slow worker and they had reached an agreement that she could resign this month. The hearing continues today.