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Court hears alleged killer lied

Written by on May 17, 2024

The mother of a man who allegedly killed Charlise Mutten sent him messages claiming the girl’s mother was responsible, as he pretended to search for the girl while he allegedly drove around Sydney with her body in a barrel, a jury has heard.

Justin Laurens Stein is facing a trial in the NSW Supreme Court at Parramatta after pleading not guilty to murder, but has admitted to disposing of the nine-year-old’s body.

Charlise had been visiting her mother, who was engaged to Mr Stein at the time, during the school holidays.

She spent her time in Sydney split between Mr Stein’s family property at Mount Wilson, where she was allegedly shot and killed, and a caravan park named the Riviera Ski Gardens in Lower Portland, about 1.5 hours away.

Her body was found in a barrel wedged between trees on an embankment of the Colo River on January 18, 2022.

Mr Stein is accused of killing the girl between 7.16pm on January 11 and 10.06am on January 12, telling Ms Mutten Charlise was feeling “wrecked” and was being taken care of by a real estate agent at the house while he left.

The court heard he told the same alleged lie to police and his mother, Annemie Stein.

Mr Stein later suggested criminal associated from his past with “bad blood” may have been responsible for the girl’s disappearance, the jury heard.

It is alleged Mr Stein pretended he was out searching for the nine-year-old while he was trying to dispose of the girl’s body.

He left the property about 4pm on January 13, with a barrel covered by a tarp in the back of his Holden Colorado ute and towing his boat.

The jury saw CCTV footage of Mr Stein purchasing five 20kg bags of sand from Bunnings, before stopping at a 7/11 where he bought a can of coke, snickers and a slushie.

Mr Stein then drove around to multiple wharves in Sydney, with the girl’s body in the barrel still in his ute, the jury heard.

While he was out, Mr Stein had lied to his mother, claiming he was “camped in the car watching” for Charlise.

His mother wrote: “I think Kallista has done all this and everything else at the property, lots of things not adding up”.

When Mr Stein suggested it was “possible” his mother queried whether Ms Mutten was as “distraught” as him.

She told her son “any mother would be inconsolable” and claimed Ms Mutten knew “where Charlise is”.

“I’m beside myself and she has no connection to me … what the f**k is going on here?” she wrote.

Mr Stein told his mother he was “going to get to the bottom” of it, as Detective Sergeant Bradley Gardiner told the court Mr Stein continued to drive between Rose Bay Wharf and Drummoyne Wharf with the girl’s body in the ute.

The jury heard he would eventually drive to an area near the Colo River and push the barrel down an embankment.

After his arrest in January 2022, Mr Stein denied killing Charlise in an interview with a Corrective Services officer but said he was “in the vicinity when Kallista Mutten shot and killed the girl,” the jury heard.

A toxicology report showed Charlise had tested positive for Mr Stein’s schizophrenia medication.

The trial continues before Justice Helen Wilson.

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