Stepfather accused of shooting schoolgirl Charlise Mutten to death and dumping her body in a barrel utters three simple words as he appears in court to plead
- Stepfather Justin Stein pleads not guilty to charges
- He is accused of the murder of Charlise, the daughter of his fiancee
Schoolgirl Charlise Mutten’s stepfather, who is accused of murdering her and dumping her body in a barrel, will appeal the charges after pleading not guilty.
Justin Stein, 32, appeared in Penrith local court via audiovisual link on Friday, charged with a range of offenses including murder, interference with a corpse and possession of child abuse material.
He is accused of murdering his fiancee’s daughter Charlise and dumping her body in a plastic barrel.
The nine-year-old’s body was found in January last year with gunshot wounds in bushland near the Colo River in NSW’s Central Tablelands.
In Penrith local court on Friday, Mr Stein’s lawyer, Peter Katsoolis, entered a not guilty plea to the charges of murder, interference with a corpse and possession of child abuse material.
When asked by Magistrate Fiona Toose if he pleaded not guilty, Mr Stein said: ‘Yes, that’s right’.
Schoolgirl Charlise Mutten’s stepfather, Justin Stein (pictured), will face charges of murder, interference with a corpse and possession of child molestation material at trial after pleading not guilty
Mr Stein was determined to stand trial in the NSW High Court for the charges of murder (related to domestic violence) and interference with a corpse.
He will be brought before the Supreme Court in July.
Outside of court, Mr. Katsoolis told reporters that Mr. Stein will defend the charges.
“He has maintained his innocence in relation to these allegations from the outset and they will be vigorously defended,” Mr Katsoolis said.
Charlise was visiting her mother and Mr. Stein at an estate in the Blue Mountains, where police claim she was murdered. There is no suggestion that Charlise’s mother was involved in her death, and she has never been charged with any wrongdoing in this regard.
Charlise Mutten was reported missing on January 14, 2022.
Police traced Mr Stein’s movements in the hours following her disappearance, from the property to Sydney’s northwestern and inner-western suburbs, where they allege he attempted several times to launch a boat believed to have contained her body .
After failing to start the boat, Mr. Stein is said to have traveled back to the Colo River, near where Charlise’s body was eventually found.
The disappearance of the Tweed Heads schoolgirl on January 14, 2022 sparked a protracted multi-agency search of the surrounding bushlands, involving hundreds of volunteers.
Police allege Mr Stein killed Charlise on the evening of January 11 or in the early hours of January 12 when they were alone together on the property.
Charlise was living with her grandparents in Coolangatta and was visiting her mother over the Christmas holidays when she disappeared.
Mr Stein was arrested in January 2022 and has been in pretrial detention behind bars ever since.
Charlise was visiting her mother Kallista Mutten (pictured) and Mr. Stein at an estate in the Blue Mountains, where police claim she was murdered. There is no suggestion that Charlise’s mother was involved in her death, and she has never been charged with any wrongdoing in this regard.