Shocking way schoolgirl’s body found

Charlise Mutten was allegedly murdered by Justin Stein and her body hidden in a barrel.
Charlise Mutten was allegedly murdered by Justin Stein and her body hidden in a barrel.

Charlise Mutten, 9, was due to fly home to her grandparents in Tweed Heads after spending almost a month in Sydney with her mother over the school holidays.

She was due to board a flight back on January 18, 2022.

But on that day, the nine-year-old’s body was instead found in a barrel that had been dumped down an embankment.

In the barrel was also 99kg of sand and Charlise’s Nike slides, a NSW Supreme Court jury was told this week.

Justin Stein is accused of murdering Charlise, who was the daughter of his former partner Kallista Mutten, at a property owned by his parents before dumping her remains, concealed in a plastic barrel, near the Colo River area.

The 33-year-old has pleaded not guilty to murder but has admitted to disposing of the schoolgirl’s body.

Schoolgirl Charlise Mutten was allegedly murdered and her body put in a barrel.
Schoolgirl Charlise Mutten was allegedly murdered and her body put in a barrel.

Charlise was visiting her mother and Mr Stein during the school holidays, and spent her time in NSW split between Mr Stein’s family property at Mount Wilson, where she was allegedly shot and killed, and at the Riviera Ski Gardens caravan park in Lower Portland, about 1.5 hours away.

The trial on Friday finished its second week, with the jury now hearing from a number of witnesses, many of them experts who examined both the barrel and Charlise’s body when it was discovered.

The jury this week had also had the opportunity to hold the alleged murder weapon – a BSA .22 calibre bolt-action rifle, which had been wrapped in plastic with its magazine, ammunition and scope.


The jury heard 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.

Experts told the court Charlise’s body was bound with bloodstained ties in a sand-filled barrel, along with a garbage bag filled with bloodstained soil and the girl’s pink Nike slides.

Former NSW Police crime scene officer Mitchell James told the jury Charlise’s body was head down in the barrel in the foetal position, “bound” in a number of bloodstained wrappings and garbage bags.

A black plastic bag was also found in the barrel containing vegetation and soil, which also had apparent blood staining, Mr James told the court.

“The body was found in a decomposed state … a regular bullet wound was into her right cheek … it struck and dislodged a tooth,” Mr James said.

Mr James told the court she also had a gunshot wound on her lower left back near the hip area which perforated the pelvic bone.

Justin Stein is accused of driving around with the barrel which contained Charlise’s body. Picture: NSW Police
Justin Stein is accused of driving around with the barrel which contained Charlise’s body. Picture: NSW Police

Charlise was also wearing a black jacket, red shirt, boys black track pants, a size 10 black Target skirt “with penetrating damage to the rear” and a single black hooped earring in her left earlobe.


Forensic pathologist Dr Marna Du Plessis told the jury she conducted a post mortem exam on Charlise’s body after it was discovered in the barrel.

The doctor described “powder tattooing” marks around the gunshot wound, which entered just below the girl’s right cheekbone, led her to the conclusion the “end of the muzzle was about a ruler’s length” from Charlise’s face.

Dr Du Plessis told the jury Charlise was also shot in her left lower buttock, a shot she would have survived.

“The gunshot wound to the back is not independently fatal,” Dr Du Plessis said.

She also told the jury Charlise was still alive when she was shot in the face, with the bullet “entering her brain”.

“She was alive when that shot entered her body,” Dr Du Plessis told the jury.

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 facing a trial in the NSW Supreme Court after pleading not guilty to murder.

The jury was told Charlise’s body was in an “advanced” state of decomposition when the exam was conducted.

Forensic pharmacologist with NSW Police Dr Judith Perl told the court Mr Stein’s schizophrenia medication Quetiapine was found in Charlise’s system.

“I do however consider it possible the Quetiapine may have been ingested within six hours of death due to the presence of it in the stomach of the deceased,” she said.

Lead fragments had been found in Charlise’s brain and her left hip, the jury was told.


Mr Stein’s lawyers allege it was Ms Mutten who shot and killed her daughter on the evening of January 12, 2022.

Phone calls recorded while Mr Stein was in prison were played to the jury on Tuesday, where he was heard warning his mother he couldn’t tell her “everything over the phone”.

In the first phone call, which took place on the morning of February 5, 2022, he told Annemie Stein police had approached him asking for the location of the murder weapon and where Charlise was killed.

“They don’t even know anything,” he claimed in the recording.

Kallista Mutten
Mr Stein claims Charlise’s mother Kallista Mutten (pictured) had something to do with her daughter’s disappearance. Picture: NewsWire

Annemie tells her son “No s**t, but she wasn’t killed at Mount Wilson”, to which Mr Stein responds with “I know”.

The mother continues: “But they alleged that it was”.

“Alleged doesn’t mean s**t, all it means is that I’m going to beat the murder charge,” Mr Stein replies.

Another call was played to the jury from February 10, 2022, where Mr Stein says Ms Mutten is “going to get charged for everything”.

He doubles down that “it’s the truth”, telling his mother the police have “nothing” and can’t “pin” him for the murder but he “saw it” happen.


“But then why were you travelling with the barrel?” his mother asks in the recording.

He responds: “Well, I didn’t even know, Kallista put it on the back of the ute”.

Mr Stein claims he thought the barrel was in his car so he could do some work on another property.

In a third call on February 12, 2022, he repeats the claims about Ms Mutten, telling Annemie he “didn’t even think of it” when his former partner put the barrel on the back of the ute.

“I’m literally at Bunnings and I get a phone call saying ‘you’ve got Charlise with you’, and I went ‘what’,” the jury heard Mr Stein say in the third phone call.

“Yeah … I was driving around with a f**king kid on the back of my ute.”

The jury later heard the phone call Mr Stein refers to while at Bunnings was an outgoing call from his phone to Ms Mutten.

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 was allegedly at Wildenstein in Mount Wilson when she disappeared. Picture: 9News

Mr Stein tells his mother he “f**king panicked”.

His mother asks again if Charlise was killed at the Mount Wilson property and Mr Stein tells him she was killed on nearby crown land.

“Behind the shed on the fire break … I’m guessing she ran down to me to the shed because the last thing she screamed was my name and then you heard ‘Mummy no’ and then the second gunshot,” Mr Stein said.

Prosecutors allege Charlise travelled to Mount Wilson from the caravan park alone with Mr Stein on the evening of January 11, 2022, while Ms Mutten stayed behind.

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

Charlise’s body was found in a barrel on an embankment near the Colo River four days after her mother reported her missing.

After his arrest in January 2022, Mr Stein denied killing Charlise in an interview with a Corrective Services officer but said “her mum shot her twice”, the jury heard.

“Her mum was on ice all week, I heard a shot and then I heard her screaming out for me, then I ran back and she shot her again,” he told the prison guard, the jury heard.

The trial resumes on Monday.