The man who brutally attacked Irishwoman Natasha McShane last April stood as a character witness for his cousin during a lengthily trial in Chicago recently.

Heriberto Viramiontes wrote a character letter for his cousin Margarita who after a two day trial received 25 years in prison for an arson attack.

In April Viramontes was charged with attacking Natasha and her friend Stacey Jurich in Bucktown Chicago. The two exchange students were returning home from a celebratory night out when they were randomly set on and assaulted with a baseball bat by Viramontes (30) and his girlfriend Marcy Cruz (25).

Viramontes and Cruz were both charged with 25 felony counts including attempted murder. Both have pleaded not guilty. Viramontes has a long history of crime, his rap sheet includes convictions for both burglary and domestic violence.

Stacey had just received a glowing review from work and Natasha had secured an internship which would allow her to extend her time in the United States.

The assault left Natasha with severe brain damage and she spent more than a month in a coma. After extensive brain surgery, she left the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago and was flown home to Northern Ireland in July.

After been transferred to the Royal Victoria hospital in Belfast she underwent further brain surgery. After her arrival back home her parents Liam and Sheila McShane released a statement saying that Natasha was eating and walking with assistance and has also started to say some words.

"Her peripheral vision continues to remain impaired and her cognitive function and speech require long and intensive rehabilitative therapy. Her doctors still maintain that her final prognosis is uncertain," they added.

A website dedicated to Natasha’s rehabilitation reminds visitors that she has a long recovery process ahead of her.