Justin Stein verdict: Guilty of the murder of schoolgirl Charlise Mutten – here’s how he reacted in court

A jury has found Justin Stein guilty of murdering nine-year-old Charlise Mutten after a marathon eight days of deliberations. 

Stein, 33, blinked rapidly and scratched his beard as the jury delivered its guilty verdict at 10.15am in the NSW Supreme Court on Wednesday.

The convicted killer, who shot Charlise in the face while she was on holiday with him and her mother Kallista Mutten, Stein’s then fiancée, could face life behind bars.

Stein had pleaded not guilty to Charlise’s murder, claiming instead it was Kallista, 40, who had shot her daughter in the NSW Blue Mountains.

The jury deliberated for 35 hours over eight days, having retired on Thursday, June 6 following a month-long trial.

Justin Stein has been on trial for a month accused of murdering nine-year-old Charlise Mutten

Charlise Mutten was shot and killed while on holiday with her mother Kallista Mutten (above) who was then engaged to the accused, Justin Stein

Charlise Mutten was shot and killed while on holiday with her mother Kallista Mutten (above) who was then engaged to the accused, Justin Stein

Stein claimed Kallista tricked him into driving around with the child’s body inside a barrel in the back of his ute before he was forced to discard it on the banks of the Colo River.

But the jury did not believe him.

Stein was also charged with interfering with a corpse. He admitted during the trial that he did dispose of Charlise’s body.

In closing submissions before they retired earlier this month, the jury was told a core issue in the case to deicide was not how the schoolgirl died, but who pulled the trigger.

Stein had claimed that after Ms Mutten shot her daughter, she secretly placed Charlise’s body in the barrel and secured it on the back of his ute without his knowledge.

Ms Mutten denied having any involvement in her daughter’s death and broke down in tears when she faced the accusation in court.

Many of the facts of the case were not in dispute, including that Charlise died from gunshot wounds she sustained at or near a Mount Wilson estate owned by Stein’s mother, the jury heard.

Justice Helen Wilson had told jurors that if they found there was a reasonable possibility that Ms Mutten shot her own daughter, they must find Stein not guilty.

Charlise Mutten, 9, died from a gunshot wound to the face fired at close range in January 2022, after which her body was dumped in a barrel on a riverbank

Charlise Mutten, 9, died from a gunshot wound to the face fired at close range in January 2022, after which her body was dumped in a barrel on a riverbank 

Charlise's body was placed in a barrel weighted down with sand and placed on the back of Justin Stein's ute under a tarpaulin, driven to the Colo River and dumped

Charlise’s body was placed in a barrel weighted down with sand and placed on the back of Justin Stein’s ute under a tarpaulin, driven to the Colo River and dumped

‘The Crown has no evidence of someone who saw the shooting of Charlise by the accused,’ she said.

Stein appeared as the defence’s only witness in the trial, spending two days going over his version of events.

At the time of her death, Charlise had been visiting her mother and Stein from Queensland, where she lived with her grandparents.

Charlise stayed at Stein’s mother’s Sydney house, then with Kallista and Stein – who were engaged at the time, with the little girl calling the accused ‘Daddy’.

They divided their time between Wildenstein and a cabin at the Riviera Ski Gardens at Lower Portland.

Charlise spent the night of January 11 alone with Stein at Mount Wilson, while her mother remained at the cabin, which is when prosecutors argued he killed her.

Crown prosecutor Ken McKay SC said it was open for the jury to find Stein had drugged and fatally shot Charlise.

The schoolgirl, who lived with her grandparents in Coolangatta, had flown south to spend time with her mother and her ‘stepdad’, Justin Stein when the tragedy occurred

A post mortem found Charlise had traces of anti-psychotic prescription drug Quetiapine – aka Seroquel – in her system. Stein took the drug for his schizophrenia.

The jury heard an adult dose of the drug would have a profound sedative effect on a child, but that it was difficult to tell how much Charlise had been given.

Mr McKay said a possible motive was that Stein killed Charlise when she became sick after he gave her the drug.

Stein denied giving Charlise the medication, and said he had gone along with a plan to cover up the murder, including lying to police about leaving the girl in the care of an imaginary woman who was valuing items at the Mount Wilson estate.

Stein testified that when he became aware Charlise’s body was in a barrel on the back of his ute, he panicked and ultimately disposed of it.

Charlise’s body was found in a foetal position, upside down in the barrel weighted with sand. Her corpse was wrapped in bags and a tarpaulin and bound with tape.

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