Moment suspect confronted over schoolgirl’s death

Duncan Murray |

Kallista Mutten bought drugs with Justin Stein after he’d killed her daugter, a jury has heard.
Kallista Mutten bought drugs with Justin Stein after he’d killed her daugter, a jury has heard.

After hearing Justin Stein’s account into the disappearance of nine-year-old Charlise Mutten, police turned their attention to whether he knew more than he was telling them.

The 33-year-old, who is on trial for the schoolgirl’s murder after pleading not guilty, claims it was the girl’s mother, Kallista Mutten, who shot her own daughter.

Stein’s lawyer told the court earlier this week he had initially lied to police to cover for Ms Mutten because the pair were in a relationship.

Charlise’s body was found by detectives on January 18, 2022, in a barrel dumped near the Colo River, in the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney.

Photo of Charlise Mutten at a vigil (file image)
Stein allegedly said Charlise Mutten had been sick and he’d left her with a property valuer. (Regi Varghese/AAP PHOTOS)

She had spent the night of January 11 alone with Stein at a property in Mount Wilson, while Ms Mutten stayed in a caravan at Riverview Ski Park about 90 minutes away, the NSW Supreme Court was told.

Stein spoke to officers at Penrith Police Station on January 14, the day Charlise was reported missing by her mother.

In video of the interview played for the court, Stein tells officers he woke on January 12 to Charlise vomiting and left her with a woman who had come to do a valuation of the property, which his mother owned.

Stein says he learned later that day from his mother the property valuer wasn’t due to come until the week after, which he described as “some pretty shocking information”.

The officers question why after learning this information Stein didn’t seem to take any steps to find out who the woman was by looking into what real estate agency she worked for. 

“There’s nothing I can say, I know how s*** looks; it looks bad,” Stein tells the officers. 

A number of times during the interview, Stein becomes emotional, explaining he is under immense stress and had not slept at all the night before.

Stein tells police he spent that time travelling to locations across Sydney, including Rose Bay and Drummoyne, to ask contacts from his criminal past if they knew what happened to Charlise.

Prosecutors allege Stein was in fact looking for a suitable location to dump Charlise’s body.

When asked who those people were, Stein is unspecific, adding while he doesn’t have ongoing conflicts, there was “bad blood” between him and a co-offender in a cocaine importation scheme over which he spent five years in jail.

Stein had also reported his car stolen the day after he says Charlise went missing, with police officers attending the property in relation to that report.

In the video, the officers question why Stein didn’t tell police at that time Charlise was missing.

“There was police at the house yesterday and there was a report made about a car being stolen but not about a nine-year old being missing,” one of the officers says.

“Can you appreciate where we’re coming from?”

Centennial Park (file image)
Stein and Ms Mutten went to Sydney to buy meth and then have sex in Centennial Park, the jury heard. (Nikki Short/AAP PHOTOS)

The questioning then turns to whether Stein or Ms Mutten had anything to do with what happened to Charlise, either accidentally or deliberately.

The officers suggest Charlise may have been accidentally run over, or taken medication from which she didn’t wake up.

“Have you been involved in the death of Charlise?” one of the officers asks.

“No, no,” Stein replies.

When asked if Ms Mutten may have done something to Charlise without his knowledge, Stein says with her history of drug use and mental health issues it “could be possible”.

“Honestly in my opinion, I don’t think her kids mean as much as she says they does (sic).”

Earlier on Thursday, the jury heard evidence that Stein and Ms Mutten drove to Surry Hills in Sydney to buy methamphetamine after Charlise had been shot and then went to nearby Centennial Park to have sex.

Ms Mutten would accuse Stein of cheating on her and contracting gonorrhoea, the jury heard.

Police allege Ms Mutten messaged him saying, “you’re a liar, cheat and now I’ve lost my daughter”.

The trial continues on Friday.