Witness evidence begins in schoolgirl murder trial

A jury will begin to hear evidence about the death of nine-year-old Charlise Mutten, whose body was found dumped in a barrel with two gunshot wounds.

A murder trial got underway on Monday with explosive claims by accused Justin Laurens Stein that it was in fact the girl’s mother, Kallista Mutten, who pulled the trigger.

Ms Mutten is among a long list of witnesses expected to give evidence in the trial, beginning Tuesday.

The search for school girl Charlise Mutten missing from the NSW Blue Mountains ended in tragedy with the discovery of human remains. (Supplied)

Stein and Ms Mutten were in a relationship after they met while serving time in prison, the jury heard.

Charlise was reported missing by her mother on January 14, 2022, while visiting the pair from Tweed Heads, where she lived full-time with her grandparents.

Since when she arrived in Sydney on December 21, 2021, Charlise and the couple divided their time between a property at Mount Wilson in the Blue Mountains and a caravan in the Riverview Ski Park, roughly an hour-and-a-half away.

On the evening of January 12, Charlise was taken back to Mount Wilson by Stein alone, while Ms Mutten remained at the caravan, the jury heard from prosecutors.

CCTV images captured the 33-year-old at a BP service station in Marsden Park the next day, towing a boat behind his Holden Colorado ute, in the back of which, is allegedly a barrel containing Charlise’s body.

Kallista Mutten was sentenced to 12 months in prison for breaking and entering with the magistrate allowing her to spend this in the community under an intensive corrections order. (AAP)

Stein was observed shortly earlier buying five 20 kg bags of sand from Bunnings, which prosecutors allege was attached to the barrel to weigh it down so it could be dumped into the water.

Instead, the barrel was found wedged in a tree near the Colo River on January 18, four days after Charlise was reported missing.

She had been shot once in the head and once in the lower back.

Stein was interviewed twice by police on January 14 while Charlise was still missing, telling them what he claimed at the time to have also told Ms Mutten, that her daughter may have been taken by people involved with his criminal past.

However, Stein would later change his story, telling a corrections officer Ms Mutten had shot Charlise and that he had helped dump the body.

Stein’s lawyer, Carolyn Davenport SC, said her client changed what he told police because he had initially been trying to protect Ms Mutten.

She said her client had been inside a shed on the Blue Mountains property when he heard a gunshot and had gone outside to see Ms Mutten firing a second shot into her daughter.

She said evidence would show it was Charlise’s mother who had motivation to carry out the killing, rather than Stein.

The trial is expected to run for six weeks.

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