THE victim of Briege Meehan last night expressed her disappointment at the sentence handed to the self-confessed child abuser - and her continuing refusal to apologise.
Mary Meehan said her stepmother had shown a "total lack of remorse" for the harm inflicted on her, at a time when she was still grieving the loss of her mother from cancer.
The former Sinn Fein councillor, who once revelled in the notoriety gained from her marriage to the late IRA commander Martin Meehan, barked "no comment" at reporters who asked yesterday if she would apologise.
She pushed the media out of her path and muttered expletives as she left the Laganside court complex.
Neighbours in Ardoyne who spoke to The Irish News back in 2010, when details of the case first came to light, described Mary prior to her mother's death as a happy, well cared-for child who could be seen with bows in her hair playing in the front garden of the family's Northwick Drive home.
However, after her mother's death and the imprisonment of her father, his new girlfriend Briege McLaughlin moved into the family home and took an immediate dislike to the little girl who so closely resembled her mother.
She had walked out on her husband to take up with newly widowed Martin Meehan and this resulted in her being shunned by many in the close-knit community of Ardoyne.
Resentful of the affection in which the woman she replaced was held, she appeared to take her anger out on her namesake daughter.
Neighbours reported hearing nightly screams from the little girl.
Mary developed a stammer and was rarely seen out of her bedroom. On the occasions she did attend Holy Cross Girls School she was dirty and unkempt.
Social services received calls after she was seen on three separate occasions with black eyes.
Mary Meehan said despite her guilty plea, her late father's widow has shown no remorse for her actions.
"I only ever wanted Briege to admit what she had done to me after all these years," she said.
"She may have pleaded guilty but even then it seemed to be something she was doing to save herself from prison rather than to clear her conscience.
"I was disappointed at the leniency of the sentence but more upset that she has never apologised or shown even a shred of remorse.
"I can only thank my family, friends and children who have supported me throughout this difficult process.
"I just want to put it behind me now and move on with my life."