Mum killed schoolgirl for ‘attention’: court

Justin Stein has pleaded not guilty to the murder of nine-year-old girl Charlise Mutten in Blue Mountains. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Vincent de Gouw
Justin Stein has pleaded not guilty to the murder of nine-year-old girl Charlise Mutten in Blue Mountains. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Vincent de Gouw

Justin Stein’s lawyer has told a jury there is “no reasonable possibility” he could be found guilty of murdering schoolgirl Charlise Mutten.

Instead, Carolyn Davenport SC told the NSW Supreme Court jury that the girl’s mother, Kallista Mutten, shot her daughter twice to “gain attention”.

“My submission to you is the accumulation of the things happening in Kallista Mutten’s life that week … taking ice every day, being rejected by Justin Stein, being rejected by her daughter and knowing she was no longer able to go and live at Mount Wilson had a cumulative effect upon her,” Ms Davenport told the jury in her final argument on Wednesday.

“In order, who knows, to gain attention, to win Justin Stein back, she killed her child.”

Mr Stein is accused of murdering Charlise, the daughter of his former fiancee, at a property owned by his parents at Mount Wilson before dumping the body, which was concealed in a plastic barrel, near the Colo River.

He has pleaded not guilty to murder but admits to disposing of the nine-year-old’s body.

The jury has been shown a mountain of evidence in the almost-four-week trial, hearing from more than 40 witnesses, including both Ms Mutten and Mr Stein.

Charlise Mutten was allegedly shot twice before her body was put in a barrel.
Charlise Mutten was allegedly shot twice before her body was put in a barrel.
Supplied Editorial Justin Stein and Kallista Mutten. She is the mother of missing girl Charlise Mutten and he is the fiancee. Picture: Facebook
Justin Stein is accused of killing the girl.

Now, the trial is in its final stages before the jury retires to deliberate whether Mr Stein is guilty of murder.

In her final address to the jury in defence of Mr Stein, Ms Davenport described both her client and Ms Mutten as “quite damaged because of their lifestyles”.

Arguing Ms Mutten was responsible for killing her daughter, Ms Davenport told the jury that the mother was someone who “used self-harm and suicide in order to try and make people do what she wanted”.

“(Ms Mutten) doesn’t take rejection well and becomes quite psychotic as a result of being rejected by those around her who she loves … that might have been the last straw as it were,” Ms Davenport told the jury.

Prosecutors allege Mr Stein was the “last person” to see Charlise and had the opportunity to kill her between 7.16pm on January 11 and 10.06am on January 12.

She said the jury must determine when Charlise was killed, telling them there is “no evidence available” for them to make the determination that Charlise was killed on the Tuesday night.

The jury was told allegations that Mr Stein had first told Ms Mutten that Charlise was ill on the morning of January 12 and left at the Mount Wilson property in the care of a woman.

The defence barrister also urged the jury to consider why a mother would leave her daughter in the care of a random woman.

“She’s leaving a sick child on her own in a strange place – she’d only been there a couple of weeks – my submission to you is that’s highly unlikely,” Ms Davenport said.

“Even though Kallista Mutten would never win mother of the year award, my submission is she would not have left her in that house sick.”

She told the jury that Ms Mutten was “very capable of lying” and urged the jury there was no reasonable possibility Mr Stein killed Charlise and not to convict him.

Mr Stein denied all allegations put to him about shooting Charlise. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Vincent de Gouw
Mr Stein denied all allegations put to him about shooting Charlise. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Vincent de Gouw


Crown prosecutor Ken McKay SC delivered his closing argument earlier, where he told the jury the Crown case alleges Mr Stein murdered Charlise by 10.06am on January 12, 2022.

“Charlise Mutten was dead, on the Crown case, at that time at 10.06am,” Mr McKay said.

“Shot twice by the accused.”

Mr McKay told the jury Mr Stein had made up stories to Ms Mutten about the whereabouts of her daughter, that she was in the care of a woman who had attended the property on the morning of January 12.

He took the jury to a voicemail Mr Stein left on his former partner’s phone the following morning after she had taken his car from the property.

“Kallista, bring my car now, I’m saying this only once … if you don’t bring it back I am going to hurt you as well as everyone else, and I’m going to tell police you’re the one that took your daughter,” Mr Stein said in the message, which had been played to the jury.

Mr McKay told the jury it was out of Mr Stein’s “own mouth” that he claims Ms Mutten was told her daughter was missing.

In another voice message, Mr Stein was heard saying: “I’ve got my f**king guns and I’m going to f**king kill you now and I’m f**king serious … you’re doing this with Charlise to f**k me c**t wasn’t it, I’m going to kill you.”

On Mr Stein’s version of events, the jury was told he claimed Ms Mutten shot and killed her daughter about 9pm on January 12.

He admits to driving around in his ute with Charlise’s body in a barrel. Picture: NSW Police
He admits to driving around in his ute with Charlise’s body in a barrel. Picture: NSW Police

Mr McKay argued Mr Stein’s voice messages are consistent with the evidence that Ms Mutten was under the impression her daughter had been left in the care of someone at the property before she went missing at the time of the voicemail messages.

The prosecutor told the court Mr Stein’s version of events was “nonsense” and “it just did not happen that way”.


Later on January 13, Mr Stein told the jury that he had plans to do some construction work at the caravan park and had loaded the barrel and gone to Bunnings for that reason.

“His plans that day, with a child dead on the property … I’ll go to Bunnings, hook up a barrel, do some paving, I don’t know where Kallista put the firearm but it’s not my problem, I suppose I’ll go do these things,” Mr McKay told the jury.

Mr McKay told the jury that Mr Stein had claimed Ms Mutten told him to pretend he was looking for Charlise and to go along with a story that put Mr Stein as the last person who saw the girl.

“The Crown says you would not accept any such conversation took place or any such arrangement was made between Kallista Mutten and the accused,” Mr McKay said.

“I suggest you will not find that version, given by the accused, as honest evidence you could rely on.”

While he was driving around Sydney with the barrel on the back of his ute, Mr Stein was trying “desperately” to get in contact with Ms Mutten, the court was told.

Mr McKay alleges at this point, Mr Stein had “absolutely lost control” because he couldn’t contact his former partner to ensure that she hadn’t contact the police about her daughter’s disappearance.

The prosecutor argued: “What he doesn't need is her contacting police. He needs to know where she is so he can continue to manipulate her with stories.”

CCTV footage played to the jury showed Mr Stein’s red Holden Colorado ute towing his boat, with a barrel in the back of the car hidden under a blue tarp, after leaving the Mount Wilson property about 4pm on January 13.

COURT - Kallista Mutten
Mr Stein claims Kallista Mutten (pictured) killed her daughter. She denies the claims. Picture: NewsWire / Gaye Gerard

He drives to Marsden Park Bunnings where he is seen on CCTV purchasing five bags of sand and travels to 7/11 where he purchases a Coke can, Snickers bar and slushie before filling the boat up with fuel at a nearby BP.

He then spends hours driving around wharves in Sydney before dumping the barrel down an embankment in the early hours of January 14 near the Colo River.

“Ultimately, by the time he got back he’s done what he set out to do,” Mr McKay told the jury.

“He filled the barrel with sand, he put weight in it and tipped it down or rolled it down an embankment to the Colo River … fortunately, for those investigating, it got caught up with trees and didn’t end up in the water, but the body was now gone.”

During his evidence, Mr Stein told the jury that he had received a call from Ms Mutten while at Bunnings where she told him “you’ve got Charlise with you, only you can bring her home”, before he saw Charlise in the barrel later that night.

But in a prison call from February 2022 to his mother that was played to the court, Mr Stein said Ms Mutten had explicitly told him the girl was on the back of the ute.

“I’m not sure why I said that last part,” he told Mr McKay under cross-examination.

In his closing argument, Mr McKay said “both versions are completely not acceptable”, proving Mr Stein couldn’t “give a straight story”.

The prosecutor said Ms Mutten “never called” to tell Mr Stein he had Charlise with him, nor did he come across the child in the barrel later that night.

“Somehow, with him unaware, Kallista has got a 33.5kg child who is now wrapped up onto the ute, undone the straps, taken the tarp off, put in the soil as well, and then put Charlise in there,” Mr McKay said.

Supplied Editorial **MUST CREDIT 9 NEWS** Police are continuing an extensive search for\n a missing nine-year-old girl who was holidaying in the NSW Blue Mountains.\n Charlise Mutten, 9, was reported missing from a Mt Wilson property at about\n 8.20am on Friday and has reportedly been missing since Thursday.. Picture:9 News
Charlise disappeared from the Mount Wilson property. Picture: 9 News

“All unbeknownst to the accused.”

Mr McKay told the jury the reason Mr Stein knew Charlise was in the barrel was because “he wrapped her and put her in there” and the reason he went to Bunnings was because he “wanted to submerge the child” by purchasing sand.

He claimed Mr Stein had “adjusted” his story after seeing the police fact sheet and brief of evidence and changed his story to fit around the timings of phone calls and messages.

In his final message to the jury, the prosecutor urged them to consider all the evidence and find the Crown had established the elements of murder.

“When you consider all the evidence, witnesses, messages, communications, voice messages left by the accused, CCTV footage, the entire evidence, you would be satisfied beyond reasonable doubt the accused murdered Charlise Mutten and that the appropriate verdict is guilty.”

Charlise had travelled to Sydney from Tweed Heads on December 21, 2021, and spent her time split between Mr Stein’s family property at Mount Wilson, where she was allegedly killed, and at the Riviera Ski Gardens caravan park in Lower Portland about 90 minutes away.

The barrel with Charlise’s body was found on January 18, 2022, after police went to the location as a result of going through Mr Stein’s phone.

Justice Helen Wilson is summing up the case for the jury, who is expected to retire to make a decision on Thursday.