Today I received the company PC of a developer who had left the company.
I came to realize that this PC had been poorly "cleaned" and some of his work remained there. I had no problem with that, mainly little settings and so on, so I decided to go on with my work.
I started working on my new project, and found out that he left a big database of his previous project, which contains some highly sensitive data about people working in the office. I immediately deleted everything from the PC, since I knew I shouldn't have access.
Now my boss came to me and asked to give back the PC in the evening because the previous developer informed him that he left the database on the PC. The boss wants to take the PC so he can make a copy of the data for himself.
Now I don't know what to say to my boss, because I probably deleted something of huge importance without his approval and I don't know if the fault is mine or someone else.
I'm pretty sure I did the right move, but how can I overcome this situation? How should I respond if he blames me for deleting it when he shouldn't have given me the PC without removing the data in the first place?
Unfortunately I wasn't able to confess this to the boss as soon as he asked me for the PC back, because he entered my office, told me that and immediately ran out due to a conference, so I have the time to "make my move".
Update: I told the truth to my boss, that I assumed I did not have permission to view that file and thus deleted it to protect sensible data of my colleagues and he agreed that HE made the bad move to not checking the work of the last dev before he gone. Now he wants to retrieve data and to create a new policy for treating data remotely and no more locally, no matter how much money they will spend