Alleged killer says he ‘never touched’ schoolgirl

Duncan Murray |

The man accused of murdering Charlise Mutten is giving evidence in his defence.
The man accused of murdering Charlise Mutten is giving evidence in his defence.

A man accused of murdering Charlise Mutten has denied drugging and shooting the girl, telling a court he “never touched her”.

Justin Stein has pleaded not guilty to murdering Charlise in January 2022, claiming the girl’s mother Kallista Mutten shot her.

Charlise’s body was found dumped by the Colo River, northwest of Sydney, four days after she was reported missing, with gunshot wounds to her head and lower back.

Colo River (file image)
Charlise Mutten’s body was found with gunshot wounds near the Colo River. (Flavio Brancaleone/AAP PHOTOS)

Stein has admitted dumping the girl’s body and lying to police in initial interviews, but claims Ms Mutten shot Charlise and put her body in a barrel on the back of his ute without his knowledge.

Wrapping up his cross-examination on Tuesday, crown prosecutor Ken McKay SC put to Stein he had murdered Charlise.

“I’m suggesting you killed, you shot Charlise Mutten twice,” Mr McKay said.

“I never touched her,” Stein replied.

Toxicology revealed Charlise had traces in her body of the antipsychotic drug Seroquel, for which Stein had a prescription to treat schizophrenia.

The court was previously told an adult dose of the drug would have a significantly sedating effect on a child.

“Were you concerned that … she was sick and you had given her Seroquel?” Mr McKay asked.

“I hadn’t given her Seroquel,” Stein replied.

Charlise had been visiting her mother and Stein, who were in a relationship at the time, over Christmas.

The group spent their time between a Mount Wilson property owned by Stein’s mother and a caravan at the Riviera Ski Park, about a 90-minute drive away.

Kallista Mutten (file image)
Kallista Mutten has denied any involvement in her daughter’s death. (Bianca De Marchi/AAP PHOTOS)

Prosecutors allege Charlise spent the night alone with Stein at the Mount Wilson property on January 11 and he killed her either that evening or the next day.

During his evidence on Monday, Stein agreed he spent that night at the property with Charlise, but said the girl was alive the next day and travelled with him to pick Ms Mutten up from the caravan before all three went to Sydney.

According to Stein, the trio returned to Mount Wilson that evening and he was working in a shed on the property soon after 9pm when he heard a gunshot.

“I went outside the shed … that’s when I heard Charlise screaming, ‘mummy, no’, and then bang, there was a second gunshot,” Stein said.

Ms Mutten has denied involvement in her daughter’s death and broke down in tears when faced with the accusation from Stein’s lawyer during her evidence.

Phone calls from jail between Stein and his mother Annemie contained different versions to what he would later claim happened in court.

“There’s quite a number of mistakes in these phone calls,” Stein admitted.

Inconsistencies included the time of night when he said Charlise was shot and when he became aware her body was in a barrel on the back of his ute.

In phone recordings played to the court, Stein told his mother Charlise was shot in the “wee hours” of January 13 morning, despite him testifying in court it was at least several hours earlier.

Mr McKay suggested Stein changed his version of events after reading a police brief of evidence contradicting his timeline.

Annemie Stein
Justin Stein told his mother Annemie a different story about his discovery of Charlise’s body. (Dean Lewins/AAP PHOTOS)

“There’s a mistake there … for when it actually happened,” Stein said.

“There’s a bit of confusion.”

The day after he claims Ms Mutten shot her daughter, Stein was caught on camera buying bags of sand from Bunnings, which he says were for a patio he planned on resurfacing.

Stein told the court he was unaware Charlise’s body was on the back of his ute until later, when the barrel came loose and he pulled over to refasten it.

He said he vomited when he made the grisly discovery.

But in another call with his mother, Stein said Ms Mutten told him Charlise was in the barrel while he was still at Bunnings.

“She goes, ‘she’s on the back of the ute’ and I f***ing panicked,” Stein told his mother.

He told the court: “I’m not sure why I said that last part.”

“Just more confusion?” Mr McKay said.

“Yeah,” Stein replied.

Closing arguments are due to begin on Wednesday.