‘Still alive’: Details on schoolgirl’s death

Charlise Mutten was allegedly murdered and dumped in a barrel.
Charlise Mutten was allegedly murdered and dumped in a barrel.

A forensic examiner has revealed schoolgirl Charlise Mutten was “still alive” when she was shot in the face, the gun just 30cm away from her, a jury has been told.

Justin Stein, 33, is facing a trial in the NSW Supreme Court at Parramatta after pleading not guilty to murder, but has admitted to disposing of the schoolgirl’s body.

He 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 body, which was concealed in a plastic barrel, near the Colo River area.

The girl 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 a caravan park named the Riviera Ski Gardens in Lower Portland, about 1.5 hours away.

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

Charlise Mutten was allegedly murdered.
Charlise Mutten was allegedly murdered.
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 Charlise Mutten.
Justin Stein allegedly drove around Sydney with Charlise’s body in the back of his ute. Picture: NSW Police
Justin Stein allegedly drove around Sydney with Charlise’s body in the back of his ute. Picture: NSW Police

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.

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.


The court heard Mr Stein had been “agitated” in the days after Charlise went missing, when he told a neighbour he “didn’t know” where she was.

Jane Hutt, a neighbour of the Stein’s Mount Wilson property, told the court Mr Stein and his mother had stayed at their property on January 15, 2022.

Charlise was reported missing the day before, with Mr Stein spending many hours at Penrith Police Station where he undertook two police interviews and was forensically examined, the jury was told.

Mrs Hutt had travelled with Mr Stein’s mother, Annemie Stein, to pick him up from the police station before he was brought back to the neighbouring property.

The following morning, the jury was told SES officers, members from the RFS and police were searching both properties, which caused Mrs Hutt to become agitated and ask Mr Stein where he thought the girl was.

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 Mutten disappeared from the Mount Wilson property, named Wildenstein. Picture: 9 News

“He said ‘I don’t know’, he was very agitated … he got up … wringing his hands,” she told the jury on Thursday.

“Straight away he goes ‘Kallista has done something with the girl’.”

Mrs Hutt told the jury Mr Stein told the group Charlise’s mother did not want to give her back to her grandparents.

“He said she didn’t want to give the girl back, that she wanted the three of them to run away,” Mrs Hutt said.

“He also said that would be the ‘easiest way for me to go back to jail’.”

Mrs Hutt said Mr Stein had doubled down on his claim a real estate agent had come to the property and offered to look after Charlise while he drove 90 minutes to get Ms Mutten.

“He said the lady was from Lawsons Auctions and had come to look at the antiques,” Mrs Hutt said.

She told the jury Mr Stein described the woman “very clearly”, saying she was a brunette woman in her 50s who had worn a blue button up shirt with light coloured pants.

Justin Stein allegedly drove around Sydney with the girl in a barrel in the back of his ute. Picture: NSW Police
Justin Stein allegedly drove around Sydney with the girl in a barrel in the back of his ute. Picture: NSW Police

Mrs Hutt told the court the day Charlise was reported missing, Annemie Stein walked to her neighbours property and told her “I need a drink” after finding multiple police officers at Wildenstein.

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.

Crown prosecutor Ken McKay SC 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.

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

The trial continues before Justice Helen Wilson.