A Victoria University employee who stole a smartphone from a student will keep his job despite admitting the theft today.

Arana Kenny pleaded guilty to one count of theft when he appeared at Wellington District Court today and will be sentenced next month.

Doctoral student Chris Cherry tracked down his missing phone to a caretaker by remotely installing software that revealed the thief.

Mr Cherry lost his phone about six months ago after he left it on a window ledge in a university toilet. He wrote it off and bought another.


However, when he began uploading applications from a tablet device he accidentally clicked on an icon for his old phone, rather than the new one he had replaced it with.

He found the old phone was still active - and contained content he had not created or used. He then used software to track down the phone and the thief.

He passed his evidence to police and Kenny was charged with theft.

At the time, Mr Cherry complained to the university, which responded by saying Kenny must apologise and pay for a new sim card.

When Mr Cherry objected, he was told his emailed complaint was not considered a "formal" complaint and would not be until he wrote to Vice-chancellor Professor Pat Walsh.

Today, after Kenny's guilty plea, the university said:" Employment matters are dealt with on a case-by-case basis, and we must consider a variety of factors in each case.

"The university stands by its decision not to terminate the staff member's employment."