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Man Accused Of Murdering 9-Year-Old Stepdaughter Pleads For Solitary Confinement As He Fears For His Life In Prison

Photo: Facebook / New South Wales Police Department
Justin Stein and Charlise and Kallista Mutten

31-year-old Justin Stein appeared in Central Local Court on Wednesday morning where he made a strange request.

Stein was arrested for allegedly murdering the 9-year-old daughter of his current fiance while she was left under his care by the mother.

Stein argued that he is in fear for his life in a request to be placed in solitary confinement while he awaits trial.

What happened to Charlise Mutten?

9-year-old Charlise Mutten was found in a barrel on Tuesday night near the Colo River, about an hour away from the private property she was reported to have disappeared from on Mount Wilson, in New South Wales’s Blue Mountains, Australia.

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She was reported missing to the police on Friday morning by her mother, Kallista Mullen. Police believe she was already dead by the time the report was made, according to the police fact sheet tendered in court on Wednesday.

Charlise was under the full-time custody of her grandparents in the Gold Coast, but was on vacation and spending the holidays with her mother and stepfather at the Blue Mountains property.

Police alleged Charlise was killed between 7 p.m. on Tuesday, January 11 — when Kallista dropped her daughter off to be cared for by Stein — and 10 a.m. Wednesday, January 12.

Homicide detectives were able to deduce Stein’s movements through the use of CCTV camera footage. The footage provided evidence about some of his whereabouts, enabling police to deduce what they believe happened and how Stein acted.

Justin Stein allegedly drove around for hours, looking for a place to hide Charlise's body.

According to the detectives, he allegedly bought five 20kg sandbags from Bunnings, fuelled up a boat, then tried to launch it from an inner-Sydney dock.

However, since the boat was inoperable, Stein had to find another way to dump the barrel that contained sandbags and Charlise’s body. He allegedly attempted to roll the barrel into the water but couldn’t because of the weight.

Instead, he allegedly decided to leave the barrel in bushland where she was later discovered.

The police also allege that he had multiple conversations with people to set up the purchase of the sandbags.

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“(There were) a number of telephone conversations, to purchase a number of sandbags,” Deputy Police Commissioner David Hudson said. 

Stein was arrested on Tuesday, January 18.

After his arrest and transfer to a holding cell at Surry Hills Police Station, his lawyer made several requests on Stein’s behalf in order to accommodate his stay.

His lawyer told Magistrate Robert Williams his client needed his medication for mental health issues while in custody, adding he had been on “high dosages” for many years.

“The other matter I'm instructed to raise relates to his concerns for personal safety in custody,” the lawyer said regarding Stein’s fears for his personal safety against his cellmates. “He has asked the court to recommend a no association classification.”

Charlise’s grandparents in Coolangatta were informed of the situation, but communication with Kallista has been difficult because she’s currently under medical care and isn’t allowed any visitors at the moment.

“The mother is currently under healthcare and is difficult to approach,” Hudson said. “She's under medical supervision, but when doctors allow, we will be talking to her.”

Charlise’s father, who wished to remain anonymous, shared a heartbreaking tribute following the news of his daughter’s murder.

“Goodbye beautiful girl... We will get answers for you baby, and we will honor you properly,” he said. “You have captured the hearts of the nation and the world, and now those hearts are breaking with mine.”

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Isaac Serna-Diez is a writer who focuses on entertainment and news, social justice, and politics. Follow him on Twitter here.