The parents of a young girl abducted and abused by a dangerous paedophile have spoken of their fury after he was allowed to walk free from court – on the same day he was jailed for two years.
The child's mother said their family had lost faith in a justice system that seemed designed to look after the man who preyed on their young daughter, rather than his innocent victim.
The girl was just 10-years-old when she was sexually assaulted by 48-year-old Belfast man Colin Shaw after he lured her away from a church in September 2009.
After a number of trials that collapsed due to legal reasons – during which the young girl bravely gave evidence against him – Shaw was eventually found guilty of child abduction, sexually assaulting a child and sexually grooming a child.
But his victim and her family have been left devastated after a court last week sentenced him to a "pathetic" two years in jail, with four years out on licence. Due to time spent in custody on remand, Shaw – who was found to have a map in his home marking the location of dozens of Belfast schools – was allowed to walk free just hours after he was jailed.
"I just felt sick when I heard he was out. My daughter hasn't stopped crying since she heard. She won't leave the house and she has been self-harming. She's a prisoner in her own house while he can walk about freely. How is this justice?," the child's mother said.
"The justice system in Northern Ireland is a joke. It was all geared towards looking after him (Shaw), not my daughter."
The young girl's family is now considering launching an appeal against the sentence and said that they have been supported by the First Minister.
"Peter Robinson said he would discuss our case with Justice Minister David Ford so we are waiting to hear what our options are," the young girl's father said.
"I can't begin to explain how it feels knowing that I didn't protect my daughter. That some man was able to come and do that to my wee girl right under my nose.
"I have been so angry that I put my faith in the justice system – a justice system that from beginning to end has let our daughter down," he added.