Alleged schoolgirl killer blamed lies to cops on mum

Duncan Murray |

When police questioned Justin Stein’s version of what happened to schoolgirl Charlise Mutten, the accused murderer changed his account to blame the girl’s mother.

Justin Laurens Stein, 33, has pleaded not guilty to murdering the nine-year-old on or around January 12, 2022, at Mount Wilson, in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney.

He claims it was the nine-year-old’s mother, Kallista Mutten, who shot the girl and that he initially lied to police to cover for her because the pair were in a relationship, his lawyer told a trial in the NSW Supreme Court earlier this week.

Kallista Mutten (centre, file image)
Kallista Mutten reported Charlise missing, telling police she had not seen her for two nights. (Bianca De Marchi/AAP PHOTOS)

A jury was shown video on Friday of a second interview between Stein and police on January 14, four days before Charlise’s body was recovered.

It had been dumped in a barrel near the Colo River after the girl sustained two gunshot wounds, to her head and lower back.

Ms Mutten had reported her daughter missing to police earlier that day, telling them she had not seen Charlise for the previous two nights.

Stein initially told officers Charlise had stayed with him in a property at Mount Wilson on the night of January 11 while Ms Mutten stayed in a caravan at the Riviera Ski Park, roughly 90 minutes away.

He claimed the girl had woken up sick the next morning and that he had left her in the care of a real estate agent who arrived to do an appraisal on the property while he went out.

Officers trying to locate Charlise pressured Stein into explaining the decision, which they said they were “worried about”.

“You have told us that previous version wasn’t entirely the truth,” one of the officers said.

In the second interview, Stein recanted his previous story and alleged Ms Mutten had likely taken her own daughter for custody reasons.

“For once I haven’t done anything wrong here,” he told police.

“The whole f***ing … real estate lady thing – that’s not my thing, that was Kallista’s thing.”

Entrance of Wildenstein Private Gardens (file image)
Stein admitted lying about leaving Charlise with a real estate agent at the Mount Wilson property. (Steven Saphore/AAP PHOTOS)

Stein said the first time he heard about Charlise being missing was that day, when he was driving to Sydney.

“I got a phone call … she basically dumped on me this far-fetched load of s***,” he said.

“I do love the woman, like I want to protect her, but at the same time … I’m the one who’s going to get f***ed for something I genuinely am not involved in and haven’t done.”

Before her death, Charlise lived full-time with her grandparents in Tweed Heads, near the Queensland border.

They were given legal custody when Ms Mutten went to jail over a driving incident in which her passenger was killed, the court heard.

“Kallista has been talking about literally doing a runner with Charlise for quite some time,” Stein told police.

He told police Charlise was most likely alive and potentially with her biological father, who the court heard earlier she had no relationship with.

“She isn’t aware, but I’ve overheard her talking on a few occasions and they’ve been talking about Charlise and her going up to Tweed and all of that and him coming down,” Stein said.

He also changed the timeline for the last time he saw Charlise, saying she stayed with her mother on the night of January 11 while he returned to the Mount Wilson property alone.

That was counter to what he initially told police, that Charlise stayed with him alone at the Mount Wilson property that night – making him the last person to have seen her.

“That was (Ms Mutten’s) version … and it makes me look completely f***ed.

“In reality I wasn’t the last one.”

The trial continues.