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Schoolgirl allegedly shot in head, back

Written by on May 13, 2024

A man accused of murdering schoolgirl Charlise Mutten allegedly shot her twice, to the head and the side of her body, and dumped her body in a barrel, a jury panel has been told.

Justin Laurens Stein, 33, is facing a trial in the NSW Supreme Court at Parramatta after pleading not guilty to murder.

He is accused of murdering Charlise, the daughter of his partner, and dumping her body in a plastic barrel.

Mr Stein stood in the dock on Monday, wearing a navy suit, with a white button-up shirt and navy tie, when he formally pleaded not guilty to the charge.

The nine-year-old’s body was found with gunshot wounds to her head and back in bushland near the Colo River in NSW’s Central Tablelands in January 2022.

Crown prosecutor Ken McKay SC told the jury panel on Monday Mr Stein is accused of murdering the nine-year-old while she was visiting Sydney over the Christmas and New Year break in 2021 to 2022.

The panel was told Mr Stein met Charlise’s mother, Kallista Mutten, while they were both serving separate prison sentences and their relationship continued once they were released.

Mr McKay told the court Mr Stein and Ms Mutten “broke into a house at Mount Wilson” and stole two firearms, one of which he said is “of importance in the case” and for the charge of murder.

Charlise was living with her grandparents in Tweed Heads at the time, but spent almost a month with her mother and Mr Stein from December 21, who the panel was told was being treated for schizophrenia and a heroin addiction at the time.

During her stay in Sydney, the panel was told Ms Mutton called triple-0 at 8.15am on January 14 and reported her daughter missing.

The nine-year-old was found located in a barrel in the Colo River area four days later.

“She suffered two gunshot wounds, entering the right side of her face with a projectile in her head, and a shot to the left lower back,” Mr McKay told the panel.

The court was told photographic evidence would be tendered to the court during the trial showing Charlise “partially appearing in” the barrel in some “outer plastic items”.

Mr McKay said the crown case is that Mr Stein shot Charlise on January 12.

The prosecutor is expected to give a formal opening address to the jury later on Monday.

Mr Stein’s barrister Carolyn Davenport SC will give an opening argument to the jury later in the week.

The trial, which is before Justice Helen Wilson and is expected to run for six weeks, continues.